Because for all of Harper's accomplishments, the one pitcher he hadn't been able to figure out, for the longest time, was Harvey. Harper entered the contest 0-for-20 against Harvey in his career with seven strikeouts. After his first at-bat Thursday, Harper was 0-for-21, tied for the longest active hitless streak in baseball for a batter against a single pitcher.
That all changed in the Nationals' seven-run third inning, when Harper rocketed a 1-1 fastball into right field for a single. His first career hit off Harvey left the bat at 110 miles per hour, Harper's third-hardest-hit ball of the year, according to Statcast™. He came around to score on Anthony Rendon's double as the Nats chased Harvey with two outs in the frame.
Harvey was the only pitcher Harper -- who flied out in his first at-bat -- hadn't collected a hit off of in more than 11 tries among all the pitchers he had faced.
In truth, Harper and Harvey are friends. They work out together in the offseason and are close enough for Harper to express public sympathy for Harvey after the pitcher suffered the worst start of his career.
"I feel bad for him," Harper said. "He comes off the mound and gets booed. He's one of the best in baseball."
But that doesn't mean Harper's long-running streak -- stopped in its fourth season -- of futility against Harvey didn't stick in his craw a bit. Harper knew the exact number of at-bats he'd gone hitless against Harvey.
"I was 0-for-21," he said. "I think I got the record. I'll take any record I can in the book."
Close. Four other active pitchers have held batters to 0-for-21 streaks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Those are: David Freese vs. Felix Hernandez, Jed Lowrie vs. Hector Santiago, Alexei Ramirez vs. Edwin Jackson, Gordon Beckham vs. Wade Davis.
Cross Harper vs. Harvey off the list. That battle now stands at 1-for-22. Not great for Harper, but he may have lifted a NYC-sized monkey off his back.