Phillies vs. Nationals: Bryce Harper Proving to Be MLB's Most Exciting Player

Michael NargiSenior Analyst IMay 6, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after a 4-3 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on May 4, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

If there were any thoughts by the Washington Nationals of sending Bryce Harper back to the minors, they were all erased after Sunday night's performance on Sunday Night Baseball.

After losing the first two games of the series, Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies wasted no time trying to show the nation that they were not going to be embarrassed by 19-year-old Bryce Harper on national television.

Despite the Nats losing, Harper continued to impress everyone around the league.

With two outs in the first inning, Harper stepped up to the plate to thunderous applause at Nationals Park. Hamels buried the first pitch in on Harper, drilling him in the lower back. 

An obvious gesture by Hamels to show the rookie that he still has a lot to learn.

Harper however answered in the best way that he could. He hustled to third when Jayson Werth singled to left field.

When Hamels attempted to pick off Werth at first, Harper added the exclamation point.

Harper took off for home when Hamels made his move and slid in under the tag from Carlos Ruiz, scoring the Nats first run of the game and stealing his first base in the major leagues.

In his next at-bat he singled to left field. Harper added a diving catch with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh on a line drive to save a couple of runs.

In the eighth inning Harper once again brought Nationals Park to a frenzy when he blooped a ball just past Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. As the ball trickled into left field, Harper was motoring to second base for a double.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 03:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on May 3, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

There might not be one other player in the major leagues that goes to second on that hit. Most players would stop at first base and not even think about going to second.

Not Harper however.

Harper showed Sunday that he is going to hustle in every at-bat and refuses to be intimidated by anyone in the majors.

He brings an intensity and unity to the Nats that might not be exhibited to this extent if he was not on the team.

Jordan Zimmermann picked up Harper by retaliating against Hamels and plunking him in the third inning. 

It was an intense battle between the two NL East foes. The Nats came up short in the game but more importantly they lost Werth when he slid for a ball in the sixth inning.

Werth's wrist appeared to be caught on the ground as he slid and rolled over it. His reaction told it all as he appeared to be in intense pain.

Should Werth miss an extended period of time, Harper will have to fill in for another injured player while they are out.

The good news for the Nats is that Ryan Zimmerman is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 03:  Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals warms up before a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on May 3, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Nats remain to look like a stellar team that will compete with the rest of the division throughout the season. 

With the win, the Phillies improve to 14-15 while the Nationals fall to 18-10.

Washington will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates on Tuesday. The Phillies continue to try to pick off teams in front of them in the division when they welcome the New York Mets to Philadelphia on Monday.