It ended up being Bryce Harpers best game so far as a major league player, but it didnt begin that way.
With zero outs in the second inning, Baltimores Wilson Betemit hit a long fly ball to left field off Stephen Strasburg. Harper, playing in center, tracked it down in left fielder Tyler Moores range and called him off. A little wind and perhaps some sun got in the way and Harper missed the ball with his glove by about an inch. Betemit reached second to lead off a two-run inning that left the Nats down 3-0 after two.
I probably should have let Tyler take it, but I thought I had a good beat on it, Harper said.
The wind took it a little bit. It got me, but I should have caught it and I take full responsibility for that.
Manager Davey Johnson said afterwards he considered it a physical error, that he would have been more upset of Harper made a poor mental play. Johnson didnt necessarily agree with Harper calling off Moore, but wasnt entirely bothered by the move.
Bryce got a little over aggressive, Tyler Moore was actually under it and the wind was blowing the ball away from Harper, Johnson said.
I dont know if he took his eye off the ball a little bit to avoid Tyler, but I heard him yell all the way from in the dugout.
Harper rebounded just an inning later and redeemed himself with the team and specifically Strasburg in a big way. After the Nationals ace led off the third inning with a single off Wei-Yin Chen, Danny Espinosa moved him to third with a double.
Harper then took a high breaking ball inside and pulled it to right field, just out of Nick Markakis range. Markakis got his glove on the ball but lost it as his knee hit the field on the way down. Both runners scored as Harper stopped safely at third for his second triple of the season.
I was trying to get a pitch up, he was throwing a lot of off-speed stuff. He left the pitch up that I could drive a little bit and Markakis made a great play, Harper said.
Luckily for us, he dropped it. To be able to get something going I think was pretty huge.
The score sparked a three-run inning and an overall 180 degree turnaround for the Nationals. Washington scored two runs the next inning, another in the fifth, and cruised to a 9-3 victory over the Orioles in front of 41,918 at Nationals Park.
Harper ended the day with three runs scored, two RBI, and a walk; a well-rounded game for MLBs youngest player. On this day he showed not even a costly mistake can throw him off and prevent him from making a positive impact on a game.