When it comes to pitchers, Harper a quick study
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Left fielder Bryce Harper followed his two-homer performance in the season opener with another two-hit game in a 3-0 win over the Marlins on Wednesday night.
With those two hits -- a single in the first inning and a double in the eighth -- Harper has hit safely in 11 straight regular-season games dating back to last season, the longest streak of his career. He's also had seven multihit games during that span.
Part of the reason for this success is his ability to observe and analyze opposing starting pitchers. After going 4-for-14 against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco in 2012, Harper took him deep twice. Both home runs came on offspeed pitches, a slider and a curveball.
Harper went 1-for-2 on Wednesday against Marlins starter Kevin Slowey, whom he had never faced. He also doubled off reliever A.J. Ramos, who hit Harper in their only previous meeting.
"As I've seen him mature from last year to this year, I think he's learned not only more about the competition that he's facing but he's learning more about himself," hitting coach Rick Eckstein said. "He learns what he needs to do and what he needs to focus on and how he processes that information, and uses it for his advantage."
Harper didn't look at any film on Nolasco before Monday's game, but once again he showed a knack for figuring out pitchers over time. In his first and second plate appearances against starting pitchers in 2012, he hit .282 and .278, respectively. In his third and fourth times against the same pitcher, he hit .321 and .375.
"He's unbelievable," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "We all know. I've already used all the adjectives [to describe him]."