WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper rocketed a 98.2-mph throw from right field, as projected by Statcast™, to nail Pete Kozma at home plate in the ninth inning of the Nationals' game against the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. The throw kept the game tied at 3, though the Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper rocketed a 98.2-mph throw from right field, as projected by Statcast™, to nail Pete Kozma at home plate in the ninth inning of the Nationals' game against the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. The throw kept the game tied at 3, though the Nationals fell, 6-3, in 11 innings.
Initially, Kozma was ruled safe after tagging up on Robinson Chirinos' flyout to right field, but the call was overturned after the Nationals challenged. The Rangers scored twice in the ninth off Koda Glover, but Harper's throw and catcher Jose Lobaton's tag helped stop the Rangers momentarily.
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Harper's laser was one of the 10 hardest throws home this season in the Major Leagues. It was also Harper's third-hardest throw this year (behind 99.7- and 99.5-mph throws).
"I'm healthy," Harper said. "Being able to throw a ball with all my might, it's a lot of fun. Being able to show it off a little bit and throw some guys out and work hard for my pitchers, that's what I want to do."
Harper's 99.7-mph throw, his hardest toss in the Statcast™ Era, came May 9 in the 11th inning against the Orioles, when he threw J.J. Hardy out at home plate. Though Baltimore plated the winning run the following inning, Harper gave his team a chance to win, similar to Saturday.
Harper said the toughest part about his play Saturday was catching the ball with the sun in his eyes. Nationals manager Dusty Baker was most impressed by how well Harper got under the ball and directed his momentum toward home plate.
"That ninth inning was crazy, especially that play," Chirinos said. "Harper made a really nice throw to the plate."
"It was a great play," Nationals starter Giovany Gonzalez said. "Heads-up play by Bryce. Nice throw, the whole thing. It was really good."
In addition to hitting .322 with 15 home runs, Harper has five assists from right field through 61 games, tying his total outfield assists from last season.
"You never want to lose a game, so I'm just trying to get that out right there for Koda and extend the inning," Harper said, "and really just try to get up to that bottom half of the inning so that we can try to win the game."
Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C.