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Every night, the starters go six innings-plus. And ever since the 19-year old has been called up, something very interesting happens.
Thursday, it happened again.
Left fielder Bryce Harper crushed an opposite-field RBI double to break a 1-1 tie and give the Nationals a 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.
The pitching staff held the lead. Thanks to Ross Detwiler and the outstanding bullpen, the Nationals have won their 16th game and seventh series of the season.
Harper finished 1-for-3 with a double and RBI from the No. 3 spot in the order. Manager Davey Johnson said he thought of the idea of moving Harper up in the order after he went 3-for-4 with two doubles Wednesday night. He wrote the lineup down on his desk, slept on it and didn't change his mind the next day.
It was another pretty good idea by Johnson.
Having Harper in any part of the lineup is good, but showcasing him early really sets the tone and rubs off on the rest of the team.
"Play like that is infectious," Johnson said. "He sets a good example. We have the makeup on the ballclub, we play hard. He takes it to another level."
The veterans notice Harper, too. Batting fourth, right after the 19-year old, right fielder Jayson Werth got a good view of what Harper could do at the plate. Werth watched as Harper made the plays in the outfield and connected at the dish.
Werth said the reason Harper is so good is his baseball instincts.
"He is a baseball player," Werth said. "When you are baseball player, you can be 15 or you could be 50. If you know how to play the game, you can play it. The only thing you have to worry about is staying healthy. That is the big challenge for all of us, no matter how old you are. He is a good player, no question about it. He will definitely be a force in our lineup for a long time."
Coming up in the sixth in a tie ball game, Harper went opposite field with a line drive double that scored Ian Desmond with the eventual game-winning run. Whether he is hitting third or anywhere else, that is the moment Harper feeds off of.
"I love those situations in games," Harper said. "I think I can hit the ball the other way pretty well. I try to get a pitch I can drive every at-bat and stay as calm as I can, no matter what the count is. I try to stay as patient as I can.
"Everybody is going to throw me different. I'm not trying to do too much or change my approach at the plate because I am in the three-hole. It doesn't change the way I am going to play."
Well, it certainly has made a change in the Nationals' lineup. Harper's presence helped the Nationals beat the Diamondbacks on back-to-back nights. That is a very good start.