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Harper enjoys an MVP-kind of day

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Harper enjoys an MVP-kind of day

The chant began after Bryce Harper had rounded the bases in he bottom of the seventh, his 41st homer of the season having already landed in the second deck down the right-field to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead over the Marlins they would not relinquish.

“M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!”

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Harper can’t do much more to make his case for the first Most Valuable Player award in club history, the first official MVP award in Washington baseball history. The numbers, at this point, are historic, certainly impressive enough to overshadow the fact they were produced by somebody who most likely won’t have played for a playoff participant this season.

But afternoons like the one Harper put together Saturday sure don’t hurt his cause, either.

The home run — a 2-run shot off Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough — was the highlight-reel moment, yet another towering blast from a slugger who has hit more than his share of those this year. But the at-bat that most impressed others within the clubhouse came two innings earlier, when Harper battled through a 10-pitch showdown with left-hander Brad Hand before lining a sacrifice fly to right that brought home the game-tying run.

RELATED: Nationals erase 2-0 deficit for 5-2 win over Miami

“That’s an important moment,” manager Matt Williams said. “It’s one thing to try to hit a homer there. It’s another thing to grind an at-bat and simply get one [run]. That will allow him to have success throughout his career, if he can have at-bats like that.”

The at-bat included, in no particular order: 10 pitches, five foul balls (all with two strikes), a new set of batting gloves (that he wound up not using), two uses of the rosin bag and a new bat after the first broke on one of the foul balls.

“I was trying to put the bat on the ball,” Harper said. “Trying to definitely make something happen. Didn’t care what he was going to throw up there. I was just trying to battle and do the best I could to get something in the air, or get something through a hole.”

The end result was a sacrifice fly, accounting for Harper’s 93rd RBI of the season. The home run later raised that total to 95 and put him on the cusp of a truly phenomenal offensive performance in 2015.

If Harper can maintain his current batting average, hit four more homers and drive in five more runs, he’ll become only the ninth player in MLB history to finish a season at .340 with 45 homers and 100 RBI.

Add one more element to the equation — on-base percentage — and Harper joins an even more-exclusive club. If he can maintain his current OBP of .467, while also hitting .340 with 45 homers and 100 RBI, he’d stand alongside only five others who have accomplished that: Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Jimmy Foxx.

“The biggest thing I see is he’s not chasing any pitches,” right-hander Jordan Zimmermann said. “Last year and the year before that, he was chasing stuff out of the zone. Now he’s a lot more patient and knows that they’re not gonna give him strikes and he’s gonna take his walks when he can. He’s been awesome all year.”

Zimmermann was asked if he ever considers how he’d try to pitch to Harper.

“I think there’s not too many ways of getting him out the way he’s swinging,” the two-time All-Star said. “I’d definitely attack him. I’m not gonna pitch around him. I’d go after him and give him my best bolt.”

Trouble is, Harper continues to make anyone who attempts to attack him regret that decision, thanks to at-bats like the one he put together in the fifth inning Saturday. Hand used everything he had trying to retire Harper. In the end, he could only hold the likely 2015 NL MVP to a game-tying sacrifice fly.

“That’s the evolution of his game,” Williams said. “Grind at-bats. Bases loaded. The lefty-on-lefty matchup. Staying on balls. Doing what he can to put that ball in play. Those are the steps he’s made this year and will continue to make that will allow him to do the things he wants to do on the field.”

MORE NATIONALS: Scherzer's fiery exchange with Williams highlights extra-inning win

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Nationals Roundup: Nats blow multiple leads in frustrating walk-off loss to Mets

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Nationals Roundup: Nats blow multiple leads in frustrating walk-off loss to Mets

The Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-5, Tuesday to drop their record to 19-29. 

Consider these news and notes as Washington trudges through its four-game series in New York: 

Players Notes:

NATIONALS: 

Erick Fedde made his first start of the season for Washington Tuesday night and put together a solid outing. The 26-year-old threw five innings of one-run baseball, allowing four hits, a walk, and strikeout. Thirty-one of his 61 pitches were sinkers.

Do you believe in the broadcaster's jinx theory? Perhaps you might after reading up on what Juan Soto did in the 2nd inning Tuesday. Then, later in the 8th, Soto scorched a go-ahead double to deep right notching his 100th career RBI. 

METS: 

Amed Rosario was the hero at Citi Field. His walk-off infield single off Kyle Barraclough was the difference in New York's 6-5 comeback win. 

The Mets got a quality start from starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, who threw seven innings of four-hit ball, three earned runs, two walks, and six strikeouts. 78 of his 118 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Pete Alonso is lighting it up right now. His game-tying 417-foot home run in the 8th marked his 16th of the season. 

Injuries: 

SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 27

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Matt Adams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 22

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least May 23

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least May 25

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 21

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Wednesday, 5/22: Nationals @ Mets, 7:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field 

Thursday, 5/23: Nationals @ Mets, 12:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field

Friday, 5/24: Marlins @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

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Bryce Harper trolls Cubs fans after they call him overrated because of course he did

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Bryce Harper trolls Cubs fans after they call him overrated because of course he did

It's not just the City of Brotherly Love that heckles Bryce Harper from time to time, it's also one of the clubs he spurned during his offseason tour before settling on Philadelphia.

Prior to losing on a walk-off single to Cubs' star Javy Baez, Harper had a battle going on aside from the scheduled matchup, and that battle didn't involve any players on the opposing squads, but it did include the fans that fill their seats at Wrigley Field.

After the fans booed him all evening and labeled him overrated, the former Nats star chucked a fastball right over their heads and across the street.

Fortunately, the ball didn't break any nearby windows.

We hope. 

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