Bryce Harper’s Grapefruit League campaign started with a solo home run to right off New York Mets’ lefty Sean Gilmartin. Harper got all of a hanging 1-0 breaking ball and hit one heck of a homer onto the grassy knoll behind the right field fence in the top half of the second, in his first at bat of the Spring.
Think he has something to prove this season? Or did he just get a hanger? #Narrative.
Harper’s blast gave Washington a 1-0 lead early in the first game of the Spring, and the Nationals added to their lead with a two-run home run to center by non-roster invitee Neftali Soto in the top of the fifth that made it 3-0 in what ended up an 8-6 win in Port St. Lucie’s First Data Field.
Grapefruit League Opener Game Notes:
• Trea Turner’s first test of the Spring at short ended in an error as he threw high to Adam Lind at first on a grounder off Jose Reyes’ bat in the bottom of the first.
• Speaking of Turner: In an interview with Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports Radio last week, Rizzo told hosts Craig Mish and Jim Bowden that Turner’s skills are electric.
“He was remarkable last year,” Rizzo said.
“As good a 70-80 games that I’ve seen a player burst on the scene doing. His skills are electric. He throws well. He can burn. He’s got surprising pop and the thing that probably is biggest thing that was underestimated with him was this guy can really hit.
“The bat stays through the hitting zone for an extremely long amount of time. He’s a guy that’s fortunate enough when he barrels the ball it’s usually an extra base hit and when he hits the ball very, very softly it’s usually a base hit.”
• The Nationals’ top four this afternoon? Adam Eaton, Turner, Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper. Is that the order Dusty Baker will go with this season?
• Gio Gonzalez tossed a scoreless, 14-pitch first. Trevor Gott needed 15 pitches to retire the Mets in order in the second.
• Joe Nathan made his Nationals debut in the third. There was no radar gun on the SNY broadcast. Reports from Port St. Lucie had him sitting in the low 90s with his fastball.
Nathan gave up a hard-hit single by Rene Rivera, but got an inning-ending double play out of Jose Reyes. Nine-pitch frame for the veteran righty.
• Harper lined a single to left on the first pitch he saw from Mets’ right-hander Logan Taylor in his second at bat of the game. #oppopower
• Oliver Perez (whose pre-delivery pause, with glove twisted in front of him, “looks like he’s serving tea” according to the Mets broadcast team), needed 11 pitches in a quick, scoreless fourth in which he worked around a “double” by Yoenis Cespedes that Adam Eaton misplayed at the center field fence. Looked like “Sparky” got spooked by the wall and pulled back. Not worried yet. :) He’ll be fine in center.
• Neftali Soto hit a two-run home run off Jerry Blevins in the fifth to put the Nationals up 3-0. 404 ft to the wall, and Soto cleared it and then some.
• Matt Albers worked his way into and out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the Mets’ half of the fifth, with a 1-2-3 DP and a groundout to short getting him out of it.
Nice pick at first by Matt Skole on the inning-ending groundout too...
• Nats’ outfield prospect Rafael Bautista singled in his first at bat in the sixth inning and alertly took second base when Mets’ outfielder Travis Taijeron misplayed the ball.
Bautista took third on a wild pitch as well, and then had a scary moment trying to score on a grounder to first.
Wilmer Difo broke for third (from second), drawing attention and Bautista tried to score, connecting left arm first with Mets’ catcher Kevin Plawecki’s planted left leg as he slid. Bautista scored when Plawecki dropped the ball, 4-0.
• Nats’ prospect Andrew Stevenson hit a towering two-run home run to right off Mets’ righty Kevin McGowan in the sixth inning, 6-0.
Stevenson, a 2015 2nd Round pick spent his 2016 campaign at High-A and Double-A in the Nationals’ system.
• Matt Skole sent a screaming liner out to right center in the sixth as well to put the Nationals up 7-0.
• Jeremy Guthrie gave up a few hard hit liners and a run in the Mets’ half of the sixth inning as New York got on the board, 7-1 Nats.
• Enny Romero issued a five-pitch walk to the first batter he faced in Grapefruit League action, then threw three straight strikes to get a backwards K with an 0-2 fastball. He ended up tossing a scoreless 14-pitch frame.
• Austin Adams, one of the two relievers the Nationals received in return from the Angels for Danny Espinosa, issued three straight one-out walks in the eighth, and a two-out walk forced in the Mets’ second run.
• Derek Eitel took over for Adams and issued a second-straight bases loaded walk. 7-3 D.C.... and a third straight bases loaded walk, 7-4.
• Brandon Snyder hit an RBI double to right to drive in the Nationals’ eighth run of the game in the top of the ninth. 8-4.
• New York loaded the bases with no one out in the ninth and Michael Broadway on the mound, but the right-hander limited the damage. 8-6 final.