In the end, it took 12 innings and a total of four hours and fifteen minutes. But the Nats pulled out one of their comeback wins and came out on top. During a game filled with missed chances (the Nationals left 14 men on base) and a comedy of errors (the Mets had 3 errors), it seems fitting that the game outcome was to be decided by Bryce Harper, arguably one of the biggest and crucial pieces of the Nationals future.
Bryce Harper’s first game winning hit of his career propelled the Nationals over their division rival New York Mets to win 7-6. Earlier this week Harper was named the NL rookie of the month of May and he’s had a plethora of firsts in his short time in the majors. Yesterday he added another first: the first teenager to deliver a walk off hit since 1988.
His teammates were more than happy to celebrate with him. Ryan Zimmerman leaped into Harper’s arms after he crossed first, and Michael Morse doused Harper with the Gatorade sending MASN sideline reporter Kristina Akra looking for cover once again. (Which, by the way, she’s getting better at avoid. Hazards of the job, I guess.)
It’s no secret that this kid Bryce Harper is getting immense local and national attention. Since he was put on the cover of SI years a go, most (if not all) of Harper’s actions have been scrutinized. Him blowing a kiss to the opposing pitcher in the Minors. His dog. His on and off again twitter usage. And how could one talk about Bryce Harper if they didn’t mention his eye black (which is considerably subdued since he joined the Nationals) or his mohawk and other hairstyles?
But despite through it all, it’s undeniable that this kid can play baseball. Love him or hate him, he plays the game with more enthusiasm and energy than a lot of people have seen in a while. Sure, some people consider it a bad thing that he is so enthusiastic. (But again, what 19 year old doesn’t have that much energy?)
In 33 Major League games, Harper has a .288 batting average, .375 on base percentage, and is slugging .528. After last night’s game, Harper’s importance to the team couldn’t have been better stated than by his own teammates. Here’s what some of them had to say about their 19 year old teammate after he helped them to the win last night.
“He doesn’t get caught up in the moment. A lot of times it takes people some time to learn how to stay calm in those situations. Everyone’s going to obviously not do it in those times, but for the most part for how young he is, he does a really good job.” –Ryan Zimmerman
“The kid’s a gamer. He’s unbelievable. One of the best players I’ve ever seen, to be honest.” –Ian Desmond
“He’s a man-child. He’s unbelievable.” –Michael Morse
“I don’t think of him as a 19-year-old kid, but that’s exactly what he is. He’s going to be around a long time. It’s pretty cool to see the beginning.” –Ross Detwiler
Today the Nationals and Mets will play game 2 in their series at 7:05. And that kid Harper who was drafted not to long a go will get another chance to make a difference on his team. But before he takes the field tonight, Bryce Harper had other business to attend to: reading to students at a local school.