Washington Nationals über-prospect Bryce Harper made his highly anticipated debut on Saturday evening at a sold-out Dodger Stadium, hitting seventh in the Nationals' lineup against Chad Billingsley. Though the Nationals lost, Harper certainly made noise in his first big-league game.
After two ho-hum at-bats, a chopper back to the mound, and a soft fly out to left, Harper smoked a high 93-m.p.h. fastball for his first big-league hit, a rocket to dead center that screamed over the head of Matt Kemp and thumped into the base of the wall. He flipped the visor of his helmet to knock it off so his overgrown-mohawk thing could flow in the air as he cruised into second base standing up. The Nats' dugout retrieved the ball, but that's definitely not the only keepsake that will memorialize his first major league hit.
Harper also made good on his hype as a five-tool player, showing off his arm on an A.J. Ellis single that scored Jerry Hairston, Jr. Harper threw a perfectly placed rope right into the mitt of catcher Wilson Ramos, who couldn't hold on to the ball as Hairston slid into home, knocking the ball loose and tying the game, 1-1.
Harper came to the plate for the fourth time with a chance to break a 1-1 tie, hitting with runners on first and third and one out in the ninth inning. He attacked the first pitch from Javy Guerra and hit a liner deep enough to score Rick Ankiel from third and put Washington ahead 2-1.
That could have been the game-winning RBI, but after Ramos added another run with an RBI single, Henry Rodriguez allowed the Dodgers to score twice in the bottom of the ninth. And in the bottom of the 10th, Matt Kemp golfed a walk-off home run to center, leaving Harper with loss in his first MLB appearance.
Andy Hutchins also contributed to this post.