Harper’s struggles continue

Beanballs,Sports,Brian McNally

We’ve heard from Bryce Harper this week about his struggles at the plate in the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He is now 1-for-15 after an 0-for-5 afternoon on Wednesday in Game 3. Harper flew out to right and to left, popped to short, grounded to first and lined out to center to end the game.

He had at least shown good patience at the plate through the first two games with 49 pitches seen in 10 at-bats (4.9 per plate appearance) – even if he had struck out six times. There were no strikeouts on Wednesday, but he was little less selective. Twice he swung at the second pitch and only once did a St. Louis pitcher need more than five pitches to get him out. Harper has insisted in recent days he isn’t pressing. Are his teammates worried at all that the big stage has undone their 19-year-old prodigy?

“No. It’s real easy to sit back and point out one thing or say he’s pressing or say it’s too big a situation for him,” teammate Jayson Werth said. “But I believe in the kid, I really do. If he goes [Thursday] without getting any hits I’ll bet on him the next day. He’s my guy. I think he’s a great player. He’s a very special player. He’s maybe a once-in-a-lifetime type guy. I’m not too worried about him.”

Harper, now down to 4.6 pitches per plate appearance in the series, had no problems in the field defensively despite the strong early fall afternoon sun. He actually wore red contact lenses during play because they are supposed to reduce the sun’s glare and help players focus on the spin of the ball. There was no extreme eye black needed as Harper wore on Monday in St. Louis early in Game 2. That was a staple of his high school and junior college days – though one he had to curtail as a professional. But if the Sun Monster didn’t get him, for one more day the Cardinals pitchers certainly did. Harper gets his next crack at them at 4:07 p.m. on Thursday for Game 4, which could be Washington’s last of the season if it doesn’t win.

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