Harper makes great grab as Nats enjoy ASG
Bryce dazzles; Murphy, Zimmerman also see 5 innings on big stage
MIAMI -- The Nationals' three starting position players came charging toward each other. In the fifth inning, Twins slugger Miguel Sano hit a popup down the right-field line as Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman all converged to try to catch it.
The ball was in no man's land and fell for a run-scoring single -- Harper had only a 29 percent catch probability on the play, as projected by Statcast™ -- but still it was a moment shared by Washington's All-Star contingent in the National League's 2-1, 10-inning loss to the American League in the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.
"We were all hanging out over there, unfortunately, and none of us could get to that one," Murphy said. "It was a coming together of Nationals."
The Nationals had five players named to the All-Star team. Harper, Zimmerman and Murphy were joined by right-hander Max Scherzer, who started the game with a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless inning, and Stephen Strasburg, who did not appear in the game but would have pitched the 12th had the game continued two more innings.
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The game was only an inning and half old before Harper did his best to make an impact. He collected an opposite-field single off Red Sox ace Chris Sale in the first inning for the NL's first hit, then extended to make a diving grab in right field in the second to take away a hit from Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Harper had a 60 percent catch probability on the play, which was rated by Statcast™ as a three-star catch. In his second plate appearance, Harper worked a two-out walk from Yankees flamethrower Dellin Betances.
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Murphy collected an opposite-field single against Sale to begin the second inning and grounded out with the bases loaded to end the third. Zimmerman went hitless in two at-bats.
All three Nationals were subbed out of the game in the sixth inning, but they all watched from the bench for the remainder of the game. Sometimes starters will leave the stadium early once they are taken out of the game, but this was an opportunity for them to soak it all in.
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"I think being able to talk to some of the best players in baseball and just be able to relax and have some fun, it's what it's all about," Harper said. "Being able to just chat and hang out."
Murphy had a similar experience with Team USA during the World Baseball Classic this spring, and he takes advantage of every opportunity to exchange hitting tips. Zimmerman was in his first All-Star Game since 2009 and thought he took better advantage this time.
"I kind of moved up and down and tried to talk with everyone," Zimmerman said. "That was the biggest difference for me this time around compared to last time, I've been in the league so much longer now, you have relationships with a lot of those guys. You know them and it's more comfortable talking to those guys."
And they were able to share the experience as teammates.
"It was pretty cool because we were able to fall into rhythm of what we do every single day," Murphy said. "And I look out at Bryce and we kind of have our own little rhythm out there. It was pretty cool."