On a positive note, Harper recorded the first multi-homer game of his career. He blasted two loud home runs, the first of which gave the Nationals their first lead in nearly a week.
In the fourth inning on a 1-1 count, Harper connected on a 355-foot home run to right field off of Jacob Turner. He did the same in the fifth inning on a 3-0 count, except this shot traveled an estimated 425 feet.
Harper, who has been slumping in the second half, now has three home runs in his last nine games, raising his season average to .250.
Now for the bad.
With an 8-4 lead in the ninth inning, the Nationals had Michael Morse on first with Harper at the plate. Harper, hustling down the line after making contact, was unable to beat the throw down to first and, in a fit of frustration, slammed his helmet down to the ground. He was promptly ejected by first-base umpire C.B. Bucknor.
Harper did not throw his helmet in the direction of Bucknor, nor did he make any sort of gesture the umpire's way; he was simply frustrated at grounding into a double play. Even still, he earned his first career ejection in the bigs.
Even with his recent surge at the plate, Harper is likely out of the National League Rookie of the Year race. His 14 home runs and 40 RBI simply won't be enough to overtake Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds and Wilin Rosario of the Colorado Rockies.
Frazier and Rosario may not even have the numbers to beat out Arizona Diamondbacks rookie Wade Miley. Through 23 starts, the rookie LHP is 14-9 with a 2.85 ERA.
Production out of Harper will be key to the rest of the Nationals' season. It seems his swing is coming around again, which should bode well for the team as it enters its first postseason since the move from Montreal prior to the 2005 season.
The passion is clearly there for Harper, so now all he needs is a bit of results.