Harper striking fear in opponents' dugout
Bryce belts 21st homer; 'he's dangerous' says Brewers manager
MILWAUKEE -- Not many hitters can put a scare into an opposing manager whose team is up five runs in the sixth inning. But not many hitters are Bryce Harper.
With the Brewers leading by five in the sixth and runners on first and third with one out, Harper's presence in the batter's box created what Brewers manager Craig Counsell saw as the defining play of what would be an 8-4 loss for the Nationals.
"The pitch to Harper, first and third in the sixth, to me was the pitch of the game," Counsell said of Mike Fiers' strikeout of Harper. "He's dangerous."
That says something about Harper, that the "big moment" Friday came with the Brewers holding a five-run lead.
"It was a five-[run lead] with two men on," Counsell said with a shrug. "The guy is scary."
In the second inning, Harper belted his 21st home run of the season, a missile that flew into the right-center-field bullpen at Miller Park. He trails only Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (22) in homers.
The 22-year-old also hit an RBI single in the fourth and walked and scored from first in the eighth. His helmet flying off his head rounding third base might've been an indicator of how determined he was to score a run down five that late in the game.
Despite the Nats' recent dip in the standings, Harper continues to produce at the plate. He leads the Major Leagues in walks, slugging percentage and OPS.
Fiers was well aware of that fact entering Friday.
"He's one of the best hitters in the league," Fiers said. "He sees the ball well, gets great swings no matter what you put out there. You just have to try to keep him off-balance and not give him too good of pitches to hit."
As for himself, Harper was more worried about the state of the club, rather than himself.
"It doesn't matter if you're 0-for-4 last night or 4-for-4," Harper said. "It's what you can do for me lately. Hopefully we can come back tomorrow and get [Joe Ross] some runs."