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Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 7: Harper's 3 homers vs. Marlins

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Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 7: Harper's 3 homers vs. Marlins

We are counting down the 10 biggest moments of 2015 for the Nationals as we approach New Year's Day. In the fourth installment, we look back at the day Bryce Harper hit a career-high three home runs in one game...

It may be hard to believe when you look at the final tally of Bryce Harper's historic 2015 MVP season, but on the morning of May 6, Harper was batting just .245 through his first 28 games. He had only five home runs, which put him on a pace for just under 30 on the season. Unless you looked at his .977 OPS, which was very high due to his increase in walks, you might not have thought Harper was doing anything special.

That all changed on May 6 against the Miami Marlins when Harper exploded for three home runs in one game. It began a stretch of three straight games with homers and catapulted Harper into one of the most prolific tears any hitter in MLB history has ever gone on.

All three of Harper's home runs that day came off Marlins starter Tom Koehler. The right-hander had enjoyed some previous success against Harper, who entered the game 2-for-14 in their head-to-head matchups, but that trend would not continue.

In his first at-bat, Harper took the first pitch for a ball before blasting a 92 mile per hour fastball into the visitors' bullpen in left-center field. His second homer came in the third inning in an 0-1 count. Harper took that one into the second deck in right field on a 93 mile per hour fastball thrown up in the zone. The third homer, also on an 0-1 pitch, went even further into the third deck, nearly reaching the concourse as it bounced down an aisle in the stands.

In addition to hitting three homers, Harper also drove in a total of five runs. He became the youngest player to accomplish that feat since Al Kaline in 1955. He became just the fourth Nats player to hit three home runs in on game, joining Alfonso Soriano (2006), Adam Dunn (2010) and Ryan Zimmerman (2013).

One of the more amazing parts of Harper's performance was his reaction to it. Afterwards I asked him where hitting three homers ranked among the best games he has ever had at any level of baseball. He shrugged, then started rattling off the cycles he hit in college, the four-homer games, how he hit three homers in one Double-A game back in June of 2014.

“That’s how I should be, plain and simple. That’s how I should be. That’s how I expect myself to play,” he added.

Great things have been predicted for Harper for quite some time, but this was one of the first itimes we truly saw it on display at the major league level. And for Harper, it was if he expected it all along. The media, the fans, all of the rest of us were amazed by what he did, but he saw it as just another step towards what he hopes to become.

After hitting three homers, Harper was given a curtain call from the fans at Nationals Park. But sensing he was one homer away from four, which is a feat more rare than a perfect game, he reluctantly obliged.

“I didn’t want to go up there because I wanted to get one more,” he said. “I wish they would have waited because I think I got up too early. I went up there and said ‘thank you’ for that. I wish they would have waited unless I would have got four.”

No one knows at this point where Harper's three-homer day will end up ranking among his career accomplishments when it is all said and done, but it was the premier highlight of what ended up being his first MVP campaign.

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More from the countdown:

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 10: Scherzer signs

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 9: Trade deadline series vs. Mets

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 8: Scherzer's second no-hitter

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE