What's buzzing:

Big League Stew

Bryce Harper has eventful night as Nationals complete four-game sweep of Cubs

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

View photo



There's just something about the way Bryce Harper plays baseball that makes his every move on the field worth watching.

Oh, wait, I just figured out what that something is. It's the fact that regardless of situation or score, the 19-year-old phenom is always looking for an opening and an opportunity to change a game with his hustle and aggression, whether it be in the outfield or on the basepaths, and more times than not succeeds in spectacular fashion.

That desire to make an impact was on full display again on Thursday night as the Washington Nationals completed their four-game dismantling of the Chicago Cubs with a 9-2 win.

In the very first inning, Harper visited the left center-field gap at Nationals Park and hustled out his seventh triple of the year, making him the first teenager since Buddy Lewis of the Washington Senators back in 1936 to reach that number in a single season. That's a very cool achievement, but it would be quickly overshadowed just one batter later as Ryan Zimmerman hit a soft two-hopper back to the pitcher.

[Tim Brown: Baltimore's Camden Yards basks in first pennant race in two decades]

Now, unless the bases are loaded or a special play has been called from the bench, a comebacker will usually freeze the runner on third. That was also the case here with Harper. But unlike most runners you'll see in that situation, Harper didn't immediately retreat to the base. He simply bided his time, measured the situation and then broke for the plate as the throw to first was made. That paid off for Washington as Harper beat the return throw home to score its first run:

He almost made the theft look easy, which we all know is far from the truth. But he wasn't satisfied there. One inning later, he would hit a shallow fly ball to Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriaro that clanked off his glove. Of course Harper ended up turning that into a two-base error. And then in the fourth, Harper would reach via an infield single and scored again to help the Nats assume full command.

Hustle, instincts and fearlessness. That would sum up Harper's game-stealing performance up to that point.

And then when tempers flared in the sixth inning, it should come as no surprise that Harper was the Nationals' player right in the middle of it all. The incident actually began simmering one inning earlier when Chicago's bench coach Jamie Quirk and Washington's third base coach Bo Porter exchanged words, which led to the benches clearing and ultimately Quirk's ejection.

[Video: Does extra wild card equal more drama?]

The Cubs obviously weren't pleased with the confrontation or the fact only their coach got the gate, so Cubs reliever Lendy Castillo seemingly sent a message to Harper with a fastball at his knees. Harper responded by taking a few steps towards the mound, which may not have been the smartest thing big picture, but at least his message was clear — he's not interested in wearing messages from opposing pitchers.

"I'd be pretty ticked off if I was getting my teeth kicked in all week too," Harper said.

Unfortunately, though, with his personality, style of play and level of talent, he'll have to get used to it. And if there's one obvious thing Harper will have to change about his approach to the game, it'll be how he handles those situations without hurting himself or potentially hurting the team.

A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.

Looking for more baseball chatter?
Follow @bigleaguestew, @Townie813 and check out the BLS Facebook Page

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Michael Jordan to serve as adviser for U.S. Ryder Cup team
Dan Wetzel: Politician wrong for attacking Raven player's support of gay marriage
CBA silence: NHL, union on verge of unnecessary lockout
Y! Autos: Texas to open fastest US highway with 85 mph limit

View Comments (2021)
  • UCF, FIU battle unknowns heading into season opener

    One byproduct of UCF's national star rising over the past five seasons is that expectations have gone up along with it. For the first time in several years the Knights will open a season unsure of just how far they can go. Coach George O'Leary … More »

    AP - Sports - 4 minutes 1 second ago
  • Pryor down to last chance to impress Browns

    Pryor down to last chance to impress Browns

    Terrelle Pryor doesn't want a handout. If he's going to make the Browns' roster as a wide receiver, Pryor, the former NFL quarterback with extraordinary physical gifts, intends to earn it. Slowed by a nagging hamstring injury for the past month, … More »

    AP - Sports - 8 minutes ago
  • Latest on US Open: Fish's career ends with tough 5-set loss

    Latest on US Open: Fish's career ends with tough 5-set loss

    Mardy Fish and Feliciano Lopez are both 33 and have now played each other nine times. Lopez paid tribute to his American counterpart after beating him in the last match of Fish's career Wednesday at the U.S. Open. Fish had a chance to serve out … More »

    AP - Sports - 9 minutes ago
  • Jaguars rookie kicker Myers takes unusual path to NFL

    As reporters and cameras gathered around new Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Jason Myers, teammates started walking by. The Jaguars can only hope he handles meaningful kicks the same way he did the crowded locker room. Myers became Jacksonville's … More »

    AP - Sports - 9 minutes ago
  • Panthers sign backup QB Derek Anderson to 2-year extension

    The Carolina Panthers have signed backup quarterback Derek Anderson to a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2017 season, providing depth and experience behind Cam Newton. Financial terms of the deal were not … More »

    AP - Sports - 12 minutes ago