What does a guy have to do to get an out at home plate? Bryce Harper is still trying, but he'll make it if he keeps throwing as he did Tuesday night. Here's how Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post described Harper's throw from roughly 300 feet:
In his first game at Nationals Park, a listless 5-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks before 22,675, the park came alive in the seventh inning when Harper settled underneath a fly ball and began pumping his feet on the left-field grass. The runner at third base crouched. The ball landed in Harper's glove. The roar swelled.
"I thought I had a shot," Harper said. "I reared back and gave it my all."
And, despite the call of umpire Jeff Nelson, baserunner John McDonald of Arizona was out at the plate — as the video and the Zapruder-like stills captured via D.C. blog Mr. Irrelevant show. It's the second time in as many throws home that Harper got robbed. Jerry Hairston of the Dodgers knocked the ball loose from the mitt of catcher Wilson Ramos after Harper uncoiled for a dead-eye throw in the 19-year-old's major-league debut on Saturday.
This time, Ramos kept the ball and applied a tag perfectly. Despite an otherwise "meh" game for the Nats, the clubhouse was buzzing about Harper's toss. He did it how he was supposed to, coach Bo Porter said:
"When you get completely behind the ball with momentum, that's when you can make a throw like that," said Porter, who coaches outfielders. "He did a great job. He had all his momentum going toward the plate."
Harper used to be a catcher before the Nats moved him to the outfield in the low minors. Post columnist Thomas Boswell said on Twitter he thought Harper could make an MLB team at all nine positions. Just like Steve Lyons. OK, not like that at all.
The Nats, by the way, got another great throw from Rick Ankiel in center field that actually did bear fruit by getting an out. Some nice hoses out there, Washington has.
Check out the rest of Kilgore's story for more Harper nuggets, including a note on his diligent autograph signing. (Harper's, not Kilgore's.)