Bryce Harper supplied all of the offense for the Nationals last night with a three-run home run off Henderson Alvarez in the bottom of the first inning. He joined some exclusive company in the process.
After hitting 22 home runs as a 19-year-old rookie last season, Harper now has 20 home runs in his age-20 season. Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com notes that he’s just the second player ever to have two 20-homer seasons before turning 21 years old, joining former Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro (1964-1965).
Harper also has the third-most home runs (42) before his 21st birthday. Conigliaro is second all-time with 56 while Hall of Famer Mel Ott is first with 61. Harper might have been able to make a run at those two if he wasn’t dealing with nagging injuries for most of the season, but he’s still doing some very special things at a young age.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.