Bryce Harper greets debuting D-Backs pitcher with Statcast-breaking homer

Big League Stew

Welcome to the big leagues, Anthony Banda. This is Bryce Harper, and he’s here to destroy the 3-2 curveball you kindly set on a tee.

The Washington Nationals slugger showed no mercy on Saturday night, greeting the debuting Diamondbacks top pitching prospect with a monstrous home run that easily cleared the pool area at Chase Field and found a home deep in the second deck.

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Harper hit it so hard, and so far, that like Aaron Judge’s home run that nearly left Safeco Field entirely on Friday, there were no initial readings on Statcast.

When Statcast can’t immediately calculate exit velocity and distance on a home run, that means it’s broken and something very bad has happened to a baseball.

Unfortunately for Banda, he was responsible for throwing that baseball. And making the whole thing even more painful, the Arizona broadcast caught his parents reaction to it on live TV.

Yeah, Bryce. Did you really have to?

Apparently he did, but to Banda’s credit he didn’t let it rattle him. The 23-year-old left-hander has a lot of confidence. Otherwise he wouldn’t have started the season as Arizona’s top pitching prospect. And that confidence showed as he didn’t allow that spectacular home run to change his game.

Anthony Banda rubs up a new ball after giving up a home run to Bryce Harper. (AP)
Anthony Banda rubs up a new ball after giving up a home run to Bryce Harper. (AP)

Instead, Banda bounced back and put up zeroes in each of the next four innings. Then in the sixth, Harper struck again, delivering a ground-rule double to score the go-ahead run before scoring on Ryan Zimmerman’s double. Banda would leave one batter later to a standing ovation. His final line read 5 2/3 innings pitched, four runs, seven hits and five strikeouts.

He ended up taking the loss as Washington held on for a 4-3 win, and was demoted after the game as was part of the plan the entire time.

Overall it wasn’t a bad start to Banda’s MLB career by any stretch. And down the road when he thinks back to his debut, he can take solace in knowing the first hit, run and home run were all allowed to the one of the game’s very best.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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