Five games into the Washington Nationals' ten-game road trip, 23-year-old slugger Bryce Harper, who finished the Nats' last homestand with a .314/.425/.786 line on the year, is 1 for 20 with two walks and 10 Ks, leaving the defending NL MVP, and Player of the Month of April, at .256/.367/.622.
He's 1 for 9 with five Ks after two games in Kansas City, going 0 for 5 with three strikeouts last night So what's wrong with Harper? What's he trying to do to get right?
"I’m really trying to stay through the ball," Harper told reporters, including MASNSports.com's Mark Zuckerman last night.
"It’s the best thing I can do right now. I’m going to try to stay through the ball as best as I can, and hopefully things will keep going and we’ll keep winning ballgames. It’s not about me personally as long as we’re winning ballgames. I’ll get going. It’s just part of the game and part of trying to get through it."
Dusty Baker offered his own thoughts on Harper's mini-slump and the high strikeout totals over this stretch after the Nationals' 7-6 walk-off loss to the Royals last night in Kauffman Stadium.
"That's when you're not seeing the ball," Baker said. "He's missing pitches in order to get into a situation to strike out.
"One thing for sure, he's going to hit. I don't know a hitter who hasn't gone through that at some point in time.
Dusty asked Harper if he wanted a day off, Bryce said no. "I anticipate him getting super-hot in Chicago."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) May 4, 2016
"One thing for sure, he's not going to go through it too much longer, he's not going to go through it forever. It's tough while you're in it, but we had that game won even without Bryce. So, it certainly ain't on Bryce. It's on us."
Washington took a 6-4 lead into the ninth inning last night before Jonathan Papelbon blew his second save in eleven opportunities this season.
"Boy, that was really tough," Baker said. "Tanner [Roark] pitched a great game. And we got some hitting, hit some home runs. And their speed got us, tonight... that's what they do and that's what they do in this ballpark."
Baker's Nats have one more game in the Royals' home, which is now a rubber match.
"Tomorrow shows what kind of character we have," he said last night. "After a tough loss and we've got to come back and win this series tomorrow, because we certainly having been playing good ball."
Will the Nationals continue to play good ball today? Who will they send to the mound in the ninth if they have a lead?
Here's the Nationals' lineup for the series finale in Kansas City: