You want to hit Bryce Harper? OK, that’s fine.
He’ll just sprint full-speed and go from first to third on a single to left and then steal home on a pickoff throw to first base.
No big deal.
Forget having Jordan Zimmermann plunk one of the Phillies’ hitters in order to retaliate to Cole Hamels drilling Harper in the lower back on a first-pitch, 93 mph fastball. Harper just handled the retaliation all by himself.
Harper hustled around second base on Jayson Werth’s single to left field and took third, a play most guys probably wouldn’t have made. He was running so hard his helmet nearly flew off.
The 19-year-old then got nearly halfway down the line on Hamels’ first throw over to first base to check on Werth, and went the whole way on Hamels’ next toss over to first. Harper slid into home just before first baseman Laynce Nix’s throw got to catcher Carlos Ruiz and was received in the Nationals dugout with smiles, high fives and strong bats on the back.
I’ve written a lot about Harper’s aggressive nature on the field and how his energy is never-ending. But Harper continues to impress by hustling on every single play and playing with full intensity.
It seems like he ups the ante every night. Tonight, Harper recorded his first career major league stolen base, and it was a steal of home.
Update: Oh, and Zimmermann just drilled Hamels here in the third inning. That’s retaliation times two.
It was a 93 mph fastball that hit Hamels right below the left knee.
Both benches have been warned. If it wasn’t a rivalry before, it is now.
Update II: The Phillies jumped on Zimmermann in the fourth, getting three runs across to take a 3-1 lead. Two of the runs came on a Hunter Pence home run deep into the red seats in left-center.