After missing over a month of Baseball, Bryce Harper is back, and he needed only one swing to put the Washington Nationals back on track, hitting a home run that set the stage for a 10-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Harper finished with 1-of-4 and also got to walk once as he played his first game of baseball since May 26, missing 31 games with bursitis, diagnosed after he reinjured his left knee several times after he kept trying to play for two weeks following the mishap in Los Angeles on May 13. After going 4 for 11 with a double, a triple and a home run during a four-game rehab assignment last week with Class-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, he was pronounced fit to comeback.
I felt like I was back on opening day. I was trying to get something I could drive. I got a pitch I could handle a little bit and put it where I wanted to.
Harper hit two home runs on his first two at bats of the season, but things haven’t gone that well for the Nationals, especially when it has to come to creating runs. With Harper now back, it might be the right kind of energy injection the team needs as they try to make the summer about catching up with the leaders in the NL East.
I think the energy he brings, he takes a lot of the focus and he’s a competitor. Just to have that 20-year-old energy running around 100 percent, I’m sure he’s still probably going to run into the wall, I’m sure he’s going to dive headfirst. … I don’t want to put a damper on that. That’s who he is, and that’s how he plays the game, and that’s great.
The Nationals were up 8-0 by the 4th inning, making it quite a disastrous start for Yovani Gallardo, giving up nine hits and eight runs, not lasting the fourth inning. Harper was the only one of those that was a home run. Jayson Werth enjoyed the most productive hitting of the game, with 2-of-5 and 5 RBIs, also helped in the 8th by a field error that helped the Nationals seal the deal as the Brewers clawed their way back with 5 runs.
Werth wasn’t too happy about getting bumped to second in the lineup with Harper’s return, but the home run right off the bat probably made him forget what he was angry about when the day began.
Jordan Zimmermann had a special day both pitching and hitting, although on the mound he wasn’t extraordinary. He finished allowing four runs in six innings while striking five batters out. On the plate, Zimmermann was 3-of-3 on only 7 pitches, getting two runs to his name. Ryan Zimmerman had a big day as well, going 2-of-4 with 2 RBIs, making it 43 for him on the season.
As the series continues, Harper will likely remain in the lineup as the Nationals don’t see any cause for concern or for taking it safe with him for now. He’s up next facing Wily Peralta, going 1-of-2 against him, making that hit a double, during their only career face-off.