In what was one of the most anticipated major league debuts in the history of baseball, rookie phenom Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals didn't disappoint.
Batting seventh and starting in left field, all the attention was on Harper since the announcement on Friday that he was being called up to fill the vacant roster spot that Ryan Zimmerman left open. The buzz continued to grow more and more as the game drew near.
Finally, it was his time to shine. His big moment came in the top of the second. Welcomed with a chorus of boos, Harper stepped into the plate and took a first pitch strike.
To give you an idea on just how big of a deal this 19-year-old is, they took the first ball thrown out of play for safe keeping. That's not something you see everyday.
After taking two balls to make the count 2-1, Harper made contact with his first big-league pitch—grounding it right back to the pitcher. Not exactly the start he was hoping for, but that's the first of many plate appearances for the kid.
In the fifth, he came up for the second time and showed his aggressiveness by hitting a bullet foul down the right field line. The bat resulted in a pop-up to shallow left—not a hit, but progress from the first time around.
Then the seventh rolled around, and the fans got to witness what the baseball world has been talking about since Harper broke onto the scene a few years back. After teammate Adam LaRoche gave the Nats' a 1-0 run lead earlier in the inning, Harper came up and crushed a 3-2 pitch to center.
The ball flew over Kemp's head and off the bottom of the wall for a stand-up double. Power: check. Speed: check. He even went as far as to pull the Willie Mays and throw his helmet off while rounding first. He was looking for the triple out of the box but wisely pulled up at second for his first career hit.
Everyone finally got to see what all the hype was about, but it wasn't over yet.
In the bottom of the seventh, Harper made one of the more spectacular plays with his arm that I've ever seen. With two men on, Dodgers' catcher A.J. Ellis rolled a single into left, setting up a play at the plate if Harper could make the throw. With Jerry Hariston running, the throw would have to be near perfect for it to be even close. Well, it wasn't near perfect. It was perfect.
In one of the better throws I've ever seen, Harper threw the ball on a line to the exact spot Wilson Ramos would need to be to apply the tag. Unfortunately, Ramos decided to drop the ball, and the play went to waste, along with Washington's one-run lead.
Because it wasn't an out, the throw probably won't be remembered as well, but it was still a heckuva play—and a heckuva debut, as well.
As if that wasn't enough, the moment really became real in the top of the ninth as Harper came to bat with one out and runners on the corners. Cue the feel-good Hollywood story. First-pitch swing, Harper lines a sac fly to left to score Ankiel for the go ahead run—his first career RBI.
He finished the night 1-3 with a double, an RBI and one great throw.
If this is what the Nationals, and baseball fans in general, have to look forward to as his career progresses, then it's safe to say no one will be disappointed.
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