April 17 (UPI) — Bryce Harper hit a home run and was left holding only the knob of his bat in the Washington Nationals’ win against the New York Mets.
Washington used the long ball to jump ahead 1-0 in the first inning, before staging a late comeback to beat the Mets 8-6 Monday at Citi Field in New York. The Mets took control of the game and led 6-1 entering the eighth inning. But the Nationals posted seven runs over the final two frames to earn their eighth victory of the season.
Harper stepped up to the plate as the third batter in Monday’s National League East showdown. He eyed Mets starter Jacob deGrom, who retired Trea Turner and Howie Kendrick to start the game.
deGrom threw Harper a 95.8-mph four-seam fastball. Harper turned on the high and outside offering. But as soon as he made contact, his bat split into pieces. The Nationals slugger held just the knob of the bat during his follow through.
The baseball left the stadium at 99.2-mph, zooming 406 feet from home plate, according to Statcast. Harper’s dinger needed just 5.2 seconds cleared the wall in right centerfield.
“He started flexing there when he came in,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters. “I said ‘yeah, you’re strong.’
The five-time All-Star returned in the eighth inning to spark the Nationals’ comeback. Harper battled Mets left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins during that at-bat. He saw three pitches, before knocking a single to right field and bringing in Moises Sierra and Trea Turner.
Harper came in to score later in the inning on Wilmer Difo’s RBI single. He went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a walk in the victory. Harper is hitting .315 on the season.
“I just think we’re a team that’s going to battle to the end, no matter what, if it’s 6-1 or we’re up 6-1,” Harper told reporters.
“It’s just how we are. We’re going to battle every single day. We’ve got a great manager in that office that believes in us and pulls on the same rope with us every single day. We’re excited to get going [Tuesday].”