BALTIMORE, MD: Bryce Harper crushed a first-pitch fastball from Dylan Bundy in the top of the first inning on Tuesday night, sending a no-doubter of a home run over the right field fence.
A reporter mentioned to Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez before the second of three in Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, that O’s right-handed Alex Cobb, who started Monday’s series opener, talked afterwards about how Nats’ hitters tended to really swing hard at the first pitch they saw, wondering if it was something Martinez liked to see, and wanted to see more of from his team.
“We want to be aggressive and most importantly aggressive in the strike zone,” Martinez said, “and when we get balls in the strike zone our hitters take good swings, they do.”
“I like that. I know a lot of teams want to see a lot of pitches, but this day and age, if you get a pitch you can hit, try to hit it and hit it hard.”
National League home run leader Bryce Harper extended his National League home run lead. pic.twitter.com/lyjKYK9Q5N— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 29, 2018
Orioles’ skipper Buck Showalter told reporters after the second straight loss in the series, that that tendency on Harper’s part is something they’re aware of, and Bundy just missed his spot.
“He’s trying to go down and away first pitch and gets a ball in the middle,” Showalter said, “and we know that Harper is always in swing-mode. That’s why he’s such a good hitter, it’s not even ambush, it’s swing, everybody knows he’s trying to move it forward.”
Harper’s now hit eight of his 17 home runs on the first pitch of his at bats.
He missed a first-pitch change in his second at bat against Bundy, then connected on an 0-1 changeup, lining it to right field for his second hit of the night.
He got up 3-0, and took one healthy swing at a fastball he missed before connecting with a 3-1 offering, lining it to right as well for his third hit in three trips to the plate against the O’s starter.
He fouled off a pitch from Tanner Scott the fourth time up, took two balls, then popped out to third on a 98 mph 2-1 fastball, and in his final at bat lined out to right on a 3-2 splitter from Brad Brach that in his mind he just missed.
“He hit the balls he should hit and it was good to see,” Martinez said after the win, after he’d discussed in recent weeks how Harper was fouling off pitches he would normally crush.
“I know his last at bat he got a pitch he thought he could really hammer, and it got in on him a little bit and he got a little frustrated. But I told him, I said, ‘You had great swings all day, all day.”