Harper’s defensive play continues to progress

The Marlins challenged the arm of Bryce Harper late in the game and came up short.

In the ninth inning, on a short fly out to mid-center field, Harper fired home to catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Greg Dobbs slid right into Suzuki’s tag. Suzuki held the ball with two hands, one inside the glove, and blocked the plate with his right foot. The ball beat the runner by three to five feet and Suzuki easily tagged him out.

“Harp has got a good arm,” Suzuki said. “It wasn’t hit fairly deep. But, who knows what they are thinking. Harp made a good throw and got him out. He gave me a good hop, that is as perfect as you can get for that throw.”

In the 10th, Harper dove for a Jose Reyes’ base hit and just missed the ball. It was a valiant effort in a last ditch moment that very few outfielders would even attempt. Could one argue that he should have tried to grab the hit on the hop?

The ball was hit so well that that probably would not have happened anyway and Reyes was destined for an extra base hit. But it is another example of how Harper goes for every play and never concedes anything. I will take that over just jogging around the outfield after a ball any day.

Suzuki felt that right-hander Stephen Strasburg did not have the command on his lethal fastball that he had seen in past starts.

“I think at this level fastball command is pretty huge,” Suzuki said. “You have to definitely pitch with your fastball and locate your fastball well and get ahead in the count.”

Pitching coach Steve McCatty said one way controlling the fastball has a lot to do with focus on the pitch.

“Command and focus kind of go hand in hand,” McCatty said. “What do you want to say, his command was off. Well, there is usually a reason why. Focus could have been a little bit better.”

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