The last time Bryce Harper faced Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte, the pitcher got the better of the Nationals rookie hitter. Harper was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against Pettitte, and didn’t look very good.
So much for the domination.
Facing Pettitte in the first inning of today’s exhibition game at Nationals Park, Harper singled with two down, smacking the ball sharply to right field on Pettitte’s first pitch, an 89-mph two-seamer.
That makes Harper 11-for-11 with a walk and a sacrifice fly in his last 13 spring plate appearances. He’s now batting .492 and no one is talking about his sore left thumb.
Update: Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann didn’t make it through the fourth inning. He departed trailing 4-0 after things fell apart.
Kevin Youkilis led off the fourth with a homer to left field, a long drive off a 1-2 pitch. Travis Hafner then reached when third baseman Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t corral his soft, sinking liner and Vernon Wells followed with a double to left-center. After Zimmermann got Lyle Overbay swinging at a good off-speed pitch, Eduardo Nunez laced a two-run single up the middle, taking second on the throw home.
Nunez went to third on Chris Stewart’s single and when Stewart wandered a little too far rounding first base on Jayson Werth’s throw home, catcher Wilson Ramos tried to get Stewart. But Nunez raced home ahead of the return throw for a 4-0 lead.
Zimmermann worked 3 1/3 innings, allowed four runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out two. He threw 69 pitches, 49 for strikes, and was replaced by Zach Duke.
In the bottom of the inning, Harper was finally retired after going 11-for-11 in his last 13 plate appearances. But just barely.
He hit a grounder fielded by Overbay off first, and Overbay’s toss to Pettitte covering just nabbed him.
Zimmerman then reached second on a throwing error by third baseman Youkilis and a two-out bleeder up the middle by Desmond plated the Nationals’ first run.
Update II: Henry Rodriguez came on for Duke to start the sixth, and got out of the inning, issuing only a two-out walk to Brett Gardner, who promptly stole second without a throw. Rodriguez retired Ichiro Suzuki on a grounder to second to end the inning.
After the game, we should find out whether Rodriguez or lefty J.C. Romero has claimed the final spot in the bullpen.
In the bottom of the inning, Zimmerman doubled into the left-field corner with two down and Adam LaRoche singled him home, cutting the Yankees’ lead to 4-2.
Update IV: We head to the bottom of the ninth, with Nationals relievers having tossed 5 2/3 scoreless frames. Drew Storen worked around a one-out single in the ninth, Tyler Clippard struck out the side in the eighth and Ryan Mattheus had a 1-2-3 seventh
Update V: Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth to close things out for the Yankees, who topped the Nats 4-2 to end both teams’ spring seasons.