Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bryce Harper makes his debut at historic Municipal Stadium tonight.
Plenty of future stars have come through this town over the last eight decades, most notably Willie Mays (who made his minor-league debut here in 1950). And tonight, a potential new star debuts as a member of the Suns: Bryce Harper, who is starting in right field and batting third against the Lakewood BlueClaws (low-Class A affiliate of the Phillies).
Harper's pro career isn't exactly off to a rousing start. He enters tonight with a .250 average (7-for-38), one homer, five RBI and eight strikeouts in eight games. Suns manager Brian Daubach, though, has been nothing if not impressed with the way Harper handled an 0-for-9 slump earlier this week and the way he's handled the attention thrust upon on everywhere he goes.
I'll have updates throughout the night on Harper and others from Hagerstown, so be sure to check back for those. And for those of you watching (or at) the Nationals' game against the Brewers in D.C., please keep the conversation going on that game thread...
LAKEWOOD BLUECLAWS at HAGERSTOWN SUNS
Where: Municipal Stadium
Gametime: 6:35 p.m.
Radio: WJEJ (1240 AM)
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 57 degrees, Wind 14 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS6:55 p.m. -- Bryce Harper was greeted with a nice ovation from the near-sellout crowd when he stepped to the plate with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the first. Facing right-hander David Buchanan, the 18-year-old took a called strike, then a ball high before having his bat broken on an inside pitch, resulting in a weak grounder to short.
DH Randolph Oduber
2B Adrian Sanchez
RF Bryce Harper
C David Freitas
1B Mills Rogers
LF Wade Moore
3B Blake Kelso
SS Jason Martinson
CF Michael Taylor
(P Chris McKenzie)
LF Zach Collier
3B Geancarlo Mendez
2B Jeremy Barnes
1B Jim Murphy
RF Domingo Santana
CF Aaron Altherr
DH Anthony Hewwitt
C Torre Langley
SS Edgar Duan
(P David Buchanan)
7:24 p.m. -- Rough outing so far for Hagerstown right-hander Chris McKenzie. He's allowed five runs and six hits in three innings. He's also walked two and hit a batter. Harper did get a chance to show off his arm in the top of the third when he tracked down a ball in the right field corner and fired a one-hopper to the plate. The throw, though, was way late, flew well over the cut-off man and allowed the batter to take an extra base. Lakewood leads 5-0 in the bottom of the third.
7:49 p.m. -- And McKenzie's night is done after only 3 1/3 innings. He allowed seven hits while walking six. He's already been charged with five runs, and he's responsible for three more men on base. Shane McCatty, son of Steve, now taking the mound for Hagerstown.
8:22 p.m. -- Harper struck out in his second at-bat of the night, chasing what appeared to be an offspeed pitch from Buchanan in the bottom of the fourth. He's about to lead off the bottom of the sixth, looking for his first hit of the game.
8:41 p.m. -- At-bat No. 3 of the night for Harper results in a groundout to first. Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Harper took two straight balls from Buchanan, then a called strike on the inside corner. On Buchanan's 2-1 pitch, Harper rapped a sharp grounder to the right side. Lakewood first baseman Jim Murphy made a nice play to scoop the ball to his right, then tossed to Buchanan covering at first. So Harper is now 0-for-3. Hagerstown trails Lakewood, 8-2.
9:12 p.m. -- Harper came up again in the bottom of the seventh, this time facing hard-throwing right-hander Tyler Knigge, who impressively blew the phenom away with two straight fastballs. Harper worked the count full, though, with Knigge throwing nothing but fastballs (and believing he caught the corner on one of those pitches). Finally, Knigge threw Harper a 3-2 offspeed pitch and missed. So Bryce has reached base once in four plate appearances now. We go to the eighth, Hagerstown still trailing 8-4.
9:44 p.m. -- Final score: Lakewood 8, Hagerstown 4. Harper ended the game in the on-deck circle, so he finished 0-for-3 with a walk.