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Williams not happy with Harper’s bunt attempt

Sep 24, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

AP

Bryce Harper stood at the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday night, his team trailing by a run in a game it simply had to win to keep its slim postseason hopes alive.

There has been no more-feared hitter in the game this season than the 22-year-old slugger, the presumptive NL MVP thanks to a complete offensive performance that stacks right up with the best in baseball history.

So, what did Harper try to do to help the Nationals win this game against the Orioles? He tried to bunt. And his manager didn’t like that one bit.

“No,” Matt Williams said following a disheartening 4-3 loss. “We need a double there. They’re shifting him. We’ve talked numerous times about it. He did it twice. I want him swinging the bat.”

Here’s the situation: Down 4-3 and leading off the eighth, Harper was facing Baltimore right-hander Mychael Givens. He didn’t square around right away; he took the first pitch for ball one, then fouled off the next to even the count, 1-1.

That’s when Harper decided to show bunt and when he wound up fouling off Givens’ offering. The count now 1-2, he swung mightily and missed at a 93 mph fastball up and out of the zone, a costly strikeout to begin the inning.

“I’m just trying to put the ball in play,” Harper said. “If I lay a bunt down the third-base side, it’s a knock all day long. I’m on first base with [Jayson Werth] coming up. So, leadoff guy trying to get on base and do what I can. But I understand where [Williams] is coming from with that.”

Harper has done this before. He’ll occasionally square around to bunt, particularly against a tough left-hander, but rarely does he put the ball in play, typically fouling off the pitch or pulling back and taking it.

Only twice this season has Harper been able to get a bunt down, though he has successfully beaten it out for a hit each time. In his career, he’s only 6-for-22 when getting a bunt down in fair territory.

  1. Guapo - Sep 24, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    MW and I finally agree on something this season.

    • ArVAFan - Sep 24, 2015 at 10:27 AM

      Yogi didn’t say it, but he should have: “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”

      • ArVAFan - Sep 24, 2015 at 12:07 PM

        PS: that was directed at MW, not Guapo. I just don’t see that he’s learned a lot over this season. Yeah, a lot of players have underperformed their career averages, and that’s on them. But using the ones you have, using them well, and in the right order (or not): that’s on MW.

  2. scnatsfan - Sep 24, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    If Harper gets drilled tonight the team should rush the field and pummel the pitcher. No way you get disrespected in your own home.

  3. alexva6 - Sep 24, 2015 at 10:45 AM

    “We’ve talked numerous times about it.”

    then why is he still doing it? makes me question the support Bryce showered MW with recently when he openly defies what his manager tells him to do.

    • dryw4nats - Sep 24, 2015 at 11:06 AM

      I disagree. I love and respect my parents, but I don’t always do what they want, much less when I was 22.

  4. JayB - Sep 24, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    That was just a Rizzo request to pump up his boy Williams….I know many of you don’t think that is even possible but I have since heard on MLB more than one former player say the same thing…Rizzo asked Harper to show support….it was not real.

    • Dave - Sep 24, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      Rizzo sent Bryce a text right before that at-bat, right? “Can U lay a bunt down? Its good 4 Matt.”

      Ridiculous reasoning.

      • JayB - Sep 24, 2015 at 11:45 AM

        ? – Rizzo asked him to buck up MW….he did it and now he respects him even less…..bunt is all Bryce…he likes that surprise stuff….just not the right play there.

      • Dave - Sep 24, 2015 at 11:51 AM

        And once again, just as with your last conspiracy theory, if Rizzo has to let MW go in the off-season, how does it help his cause to have Bryce “pump up his boy Williams”?

        Lately a lot of what you write here makes very little sense.

    • bababooeytoyouall - Sep 24, 2015 at 12:27 PM

      I totally agree #FireMattWilliams

      • JayB - Sep 24, 2015 at 3:05 PM

        Rizzo is going to get no trouble from anyone in the media, fans, team or ownership for firing MW….it just may help MW land a coaching job somewhere else and it does give Rizzo cover because it give MW some redeeming quality to balance the complete incompetence he has showed…Rizzo can say while it did not work out MW had tools he brought to the table.

  5. bigcat492 - Sep 24, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    Harper has 40 sumthin bombs. He’s had a historic year. He can tie the game with one swing. Swing the bat.

    As for The Big Dumb Marine aka Dudley Do-Right. After this miserable bomb shell of a season. How in the world can Rizzo or the Lerners possibly bring him back. He is the poster child in this messy, abortion of a season

  6. tcostant - Sep 24, 2015 at 6:40 PM

    Williams your fired.

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