Haren looking sharp, helping his own cause (Harper into Nats record books)

So far, so good this afternoon for Dan Haren.

Haren has faced the minimum through three scoreless innings today, striking out three. He’s thrown just 35 pitches thus far, and came out of the gates attacking, firing first-pitch strikes to five of the first six hitters he faced.

Manager Davey Johnson has said he’d like to see Haren worry less about velocity and more about control and mixing his pitches. For much of the first three innings, Haren was bringing his four-seam fastball in at 88-89 mph, as compared to the 90-91 mph that we saw in his first few starts.

Haren did dial it up to 91 mph in the third inning, however.

It’s too early to say Haren’s locked in today, but he’s working quickly and sure looks to be feeling pretty good.

The veteran right-hander has also put it some work in the batter’s box, delivering a two-out RBI single in the second that got the Nationals on the board.

A career .221 hitter - which is pretty darn good as far as pitchers go - Haren flipped his bat out with two strikes and dropped a single down the right field line. Ian Desmond, who had walked earlier in the inning, came around to score.

One batter later, Denard Span singled up the middle, allowing Anthony Rendon to come in. Rendon had also drawn a walk off Reds righty Mike Leake.

The Nats then tacked on two more runs in the third. Desmond delivered an RBI single to center and Reds third baseman Jack Hannahan threw the ball into right field in an attempt to get an inning-ending force at second, allowing another run to come around.

The Nationals have already had nine batters reach base through three innings, and they lead 4-0.

Update: Bryce Harper keeps on hammering baseballs.

Harper ripped a two-run homer into the Nats’ bullpen with one out in the fourth inning, giving the Nationals a 6-1 lead.

It’s Harper’s ninth homer of the season, and he now has 19 RBIs. Both of those numbers have set Nationals team records for the month of April.

With Ryan Zimmerman on the DL and the majority of the guys in their lineup going through a slump over the last week or two, where would the Nats be without Harper?

Here’s his updated slash line for this season, which is just ludicrous: .373/.447/.783.

Harper has carried the Nats offensively and will certainly get serious consideration for National League Player of the Month.

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