Bryce Harper expected to build off strong debut for Nationals
Los Angeles, CA, United States (AHN Sports) – Bryce Harper shined in his much-anticipated Major League debut Saturday night for Washington, getting the start in left field for the Nationals.
Harper, the top pick of the 2010 draft, went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI in the Nationals’ extra-inning loss to the Dodgers.
Harper, who at 19 years old became the youngest player to suit up for the Nationals, drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth and hit a double in the seventh in Washington’s third straight loss.
It marked a solid debut for Harper, whose double off Chad Billingsley showed power not expected of young player making his first MLB debut.
Harper, who hit .286 in nine spring training tilts though the club decided to start him in Triple A, drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning with a sacrifice fly. Wilson Ramos added an insurance run for the Nats with an RBI single.
It gave a 3-1 lead to Washington, but both runs were taken back in the bottom half following three wild pitches by closer Henry Rodriguez. Matt Kemp ripped his 11th home run of the year in the 10th inning, eventually spoiling the debut of the talented slugger.
While with Syracuse, Harper hit just .250 with one homer and three RBI over 20 games, but his dismal performance at the plate has improved recently according to general manager Mike Rizzo.
Harper filled an open roster spot left by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a right shoulder injury.
Harper, who according to MLB.com is the second-ranked prospect in all of baseball, will be the everyday left fielder for the Nats, but it is still unclear if Washington plans to keep him at the major league level once Zimmerman returns to duty.
In the meantime, Nationals fans and baseball enthusiasts finally got to see the talented slugger hit the field together with Stephen Strasburg, the top pick of the 2009 draft, in what has been dubbed the start of the Strasburg- Harper era.
Strasburg went seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits over seven innings for Washington.
Strasburg, who was making his fifth start of the season, matched zeroes with his counterpart, Billingsley, until both teams scored a run in the eighth against the two starters. Tom Gorzelanny (1-1) was saddled with the loss.
Harper is expected to build off his solid debut when he faces Dodgers hurler Chris Capuano as the Nats try to salvage their three-game set Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Capuano (2-0, 3.52), who has faced Washington six times and is 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA, is coming off a win over the Atlanta Braves Monday.
The Nationals will counter with Gio Gonzalez (2-0, 1.52), who will carry his scoreless-innings streak into the LA finale.