Washington Nationals rookie Steve Lombardozzi hitting his first major-league home run in the first inning Sunday was precious enough. But his teammates had barely gotten a chance to congratulate him (after faking Lombardozzi out with a delay in the dugout) before Bryce Harper helped to make history by connecting against Atlanta's Tommy Hanson for his fifth home run. Harper's blast, coming on the next pitch, allowed him and Lombardozzi to become the first rookies since at least 1900 to hit back-to-back home runs to start the first inning, the Elias Sports Bureau reports.
Lombardozzi, a son of former major leaguer Steve Lombardozzi, had gone deep only 17 times in 1,749 at-bats in the minor leagues and isn't expected to flex his muscles much in the majors. He said in the Washington Post that Harper's homer caught everyone by surprise in a different way:
"They were kind of messing with me when I walked in the dugout," Lombardozzi said. "And then once they did get up and high-five me, everybody started yelling and then I realized he just went yard."
The homers were the highlight of the day for the Nats, who failed to score again and fell to the Braves 3-2. Harper squandered a chance to score another run in the fifth by trying to stretch a double into a triple with one out. Instead, infielder Andrelton Simmons made an accurate-enough relay throw from shallow center as the middle man on a relay started by outfielder Jason Heyward. The best part of the play might have been the short-hop catch and tag at third by Martin Prado. Harper, as quoted on MLB.com, sounded like he didn't really want to apologize for taking a gamble that failed.
"They got me in that situation," Harper said. "I was thinking get three. Maybe I should have backed off and got two with [Ryan] Zimmerman coming up, [Adam] LaRoche coming up, and [Mike] Morse coming up. ... There is nothing I can do about it now."
Rookies. They give, they take, they learn.