Bryce Harper was apparently doing the big league version of trolling the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon.
After doubling home a run in the third inning of Saturday’s 10-4 win, the Nationals’ electric rookie decided to push himself into even better scoring position. After a Wily Peralta pitch Harper basically extended his lead to the middle of the base path between second and third base. He made a tempting target for Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado, who took the bait and fired to second base.
It was a good, hard throw and it easily would have nailed Harper. He would have skulked to the dugout embarrassed after the rare pickoff at second base. It’s not really a play you can excuse – unless you don’t get picked off at all. Because the throw to second takes an extra beat or two to reach its target, Harper simply took off for third.
“He probably used that a lot in high school,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said half-jokingly.
By the time Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks caught Maldonado’s throw he was helpless to make the extra throw to third. Harper had outwitted the Brewers through sheer aggression – a hallmark of his rookie campaign, even if that sometimes gets him in trouble. Harper would have scored anyway when Adam LaRoche doubled later in the inning. But he’d put himself in position to take advantage of a one-out fly ball from Ryan Zimmerman or a Peralta wild pitch or…whatever. So was it on purpose or did Harper get lucky? And does it even matter if the play works?
“I have no idea. I think maybe he’s trying to get a good jump to score,” a bemused Johnson said. “As he is in everything, overaggressive.”
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