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Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper gets walked some more, gets frustrated some more...

Bryce Harper didn’t set the record for walks in the month-(plus) of March/April, and he’s starting to get frustrated by opposing teams’ plan to avoid having him beat them by walking him instead of pitching to him.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper started the series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates with 36 walks total on the year after 28 games and 127 plate appearances. Harper’s 36 free passes were the most in the majors, and as the Washington Nationals wrote in their pregame notes, Harper had, “... been issued at least one walk in 13 of his last 14 games,” and, “reached base safely in all 14 games,” posting a .476 OBP over that stretch, which left him with a .467 OBP overall on the season, the second-highest on-base percentage in the National League.

Harper was also just three walks away from tying Barry Bonds for the MLB record for walks in March/April, which Bonds set when he was walked 39 times in the first month-plus back in 2004 on the way to an MLB record 232 total walks that season.

Six of Harper’s walks this season were intentional. Bonds received 18 intentional walks in March/April that year, on his way to an MLB record 120 intentional walks for the year.

On Monday night, Pirates’ starter Jameson Taillon challenged Harper, and struck him out in the first matchup of the game in the first, throwing a 96 mph 2-2 fastball by the Nationals’ slugger, but with Trea Turner on second after a leadoff double in the third, the Bucs’ right-hander fell behind Harper, 2-1, and put him on for walk No. 37 of the season, intentional walk No. 7.

Howie Kendrick and Matt Adams went down swinging and looking, respectively, in the next two at bats, as the Nationals stranded two runners.

Taillon got Harper swinging again in the first at bat of the fifth, and Pirates’ reliever Richard Rodriguez put Harper on after Trea Turner singled and took second on a fly to right by Ryan Zimmerman in the seventh. Walk No. 38, IBB No. 8. Kendrick flew out to right in that at bat.

Harper ended the night 0 for 2 with two walks. He showed signs of frustration in the finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday after going 1 for 3 with a walk in the Nationals’ win.

Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez was asked after Monday’s 3-2 win over the Pirates what he was seeing from Harper over the last few weeks, as opposing teams have opted to avoid having the 25-year-old former NL MVP beat them.

“They’re walking him,” Martinez said, “and he’s a little frustrated, but I told him, I said, ‘Hey, take your walks.’ I mean take your walks, try to stay on the ball, you know, he’s getting maybe one pitch to hit, and he said today, ‘I just keep fouling them off,’ and I said, ‘I know it’s frustrating, I do, but stay with it. Things will change. You’re a good hitter, you’re one of the best hitters in the game, so just stay with it.’”

After Monday’s 0 for 2, Harper is 7 for 39 with a home run, 10 walks, and 18 Ks over the last 13 games, going back to the start of the Nationals’ recently-completed road trip. He’s gone from a .315/.487/.778 line on April 16th to a .247/.458/.528 line after last night’s game.

Martinez was asked about Turner taking second in the seventh and leaving first open for the Pirates to put Harper on. He said he doesn’t think it really makes a difference at this point.

“I really don’t think if you’re facing Bryce Harper, regardless of if there is a guy on first, second, whatever, base open,” Martinez explained, “I still think they pitch around him.

“I’ve noticed they’re giving him one pitch and then after that they’re trying to make him chase.”

Has it added to the frustration that the Nationals have struggled to find protection behind Harper in the lineup? Zimmerman struggled in the cleanup role, and Kendrick was hitless there against the Pirates.

“Howie has been doing great, he really has,” Martinez said, “and I don’t mind Howie getting up there in situations where we have a [chance] to drive in runs.

“I don’t think there’s anybody that’s going to protect Harper, he’s that good. He really is, and like he said, and I told him, I said, ‘Take your walks,’ when you start getting hot like in the beginning, he was hitting his pitches, and he was hitting them far, so he’ll start hitting, no doubt about it, but like I said, he’s got to be patient.”