Bryce Harper went 54 plate appearances (over 11 games) between his 18th and 19th home runs of the 2017 campaign. Harper hit his 19th in his 333rd plate appearance, and then hit his 20th in his 334th. Both home runs were two-run blasts off St. Louis Cardinals’ starter Carlos Martinez.
Harper hit a 1-2 slider out to right in the first, then hit an 0-2 change out in the third for his second of the game. Harper accounted for four of the five runs Martinez gave up over his five innings on the mound.
Martinez’s manager, Mike Matheny, said those were really the only mistakes the 25-year-old starter made in the finale of the three-game set in St. Louis.
“It was two innings, really,” Matheny told reporters. “It was a slider that didn’t get in on Harper and then a changeup that he stayed back on.”
Before Sunday night, Martinez had allowed just two home runs in his previous 41 1⁄3 IP.
Dusty Baker told ESPN’s Buster Olney, during the broadcast on Sunday Night Baseball, that he liked what he saw from Harper on the home run swings.
“What do you think of the dialed back swing of Bryce Harper tonight?” Olney asked.
“I think that’s good,” Baker said.
“He’s been experimenting with it, and no stride, cause a lot of times he fouls pitches off sometimes when he doesn’t dial it back that he should put in play.”
Harper shortened his swing and went down for two pitches low in the zone and golfed them out to right field, with the slider hit off the low inside corner, and the changeup down out of the zone inside.
Harper’s 19th HR (pitch No. 5, obviously):
HARPER’S 20TH HR:
Martinez told reporters, as quoted on MLB.com, that he threw the second home run pitch where he wanted to throw it.
“I feel like in a different occasion, maybe against a different opponent,” he said, “that would have been an OK pitch."
“Martinez is really good,” Harper told reporters after the win over the Cards. “He’s an All-Star. He’s been really good the past couple of years.
“Throws hard, does things out there that other guys can’t do. I was just trying to go out there and put the bat on the ball and hopefully supply the power a little bit and get lucky and get a pitch you can drive.”
Harper went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and finished the night with a .318/.424/.601 line, 20 doubles, and 20 home runs on the season. He also earned his fifth All-Star nod in six major league seasons on Sunday.
But stop asking. He’s not going to participate in the Home Run Derby until the All-Star Game comes to D.C. next season.