Harper speaks loudly with 2-homer game

August 11th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ultimately, there’s no silencing . He controls a game’s volume, literally and figuratively.

Manager Gabe Kapler installed Harper in the leadoff spot for the fifth time this season Friday in an attempt to galvanize the Phillies’ erratic offense. The electrifying right fielder responded by homering twice, including a three-run drive in the seventh inning that propelled Philadelphia to a 9-6 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

“Like I said the other day, I’m just Bryce and I just do my thing,” Harper said after he kept the Phillies on even footing in the National League Wild Card race. Three of the four teams a half-game ahead of or tied with Philadelphia -- the Brewers, Cardinals and Mets -- also won.

Harper’s 18th career multiple-homer game featured not just long-ball ballistics but also smack-talking theatrics.

Harper’s first homer, a fifth-inning clout off Giants starter Tyler Beede, gave Philadelphia a 5-3 edge. Heckled by Oracle Park fans during each of his plate appearances, Harper exacted his revenge by lifting his index finger to his lips in the worldwide gesture calling for silence.

Asked why he chose to respond to these taunts rather than ignore them, as he does in other cities, Harper said, “It just depends on what people say, pretty much. There are just things that people say that people shouldn’t say and shouldn’t come out of their mouths. But that’s part of sports, I guess, and part of fan bases. San Fran’s got a great fan base. They love their team and they love their city. It’s a lot of fun going back and forth.”

The Giants nosed ahead with a three-run surge in the sixth inning off Phillies starter . That lead quickly evaporated as the relentless Harper added his second homer of the evening and 22nd of the season, redirecting Tony Watson’s 2-2 slider into San Francisco Bay to put Philadelphia ahead to stay.

“It was a terrible pitch, and he crushed it," Watson said.

“When the opponent brings in their left-hander to get your big left-handed hitter out, it’s a huge boost for the dugout and a huge momentum-shifter,” Kapler said. “We certainly rode Bryce to this victory.” Hitter, heal thyself. This could have been Harper’s mantra. His big night interrupted a skid in which he hit .190 (8-for-42) in his previous 12 games.

Kapler has no desire to mess with success, though he didn’t guarantee that Harper will become the Phillies’ permanent leadoff hitter.

“I think we’ll probably run Bryce out in the top of the lineup again tomorrow,” Kapler said. “What I think we’ll do is, we’ll read and react from there. I think Bryce can hit in any spot in the top four.”

Other Phillies regained a semblance of offensive health. , accustomed to occupying the cleanup spot, singled and scored twice while batting second behind Harper.

whistled a bases-loaded triple to right-center field to highlight Philadelphia’s four-run uprising in the third. Beede created his own trouble by issuing a one-out walk to Smyly, the opposing pitcher who was 0-for-7 this season.

“I was joking to myself, ‘We might have found our leadoff hitter in Drew Smyly,’” Kapler said.

Then Harper went to work.