Bryce Harper emulates Ichiro Suzuki for infield single

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Bryce Harper is highly-regarded for his elite power potential, but he took a page out of Ichiro Suzuki’s book in order to beat out an infield single last night against the Mets.

With junkballing left-hander Daniel Herrera on the mound, Harper took a bit of a leaning start out of the box and slapped a pitch to the left side. It appeared to be a pretty routine ground ball to non-roster invitee Vinny Rottino at third base, but the 19-year-old hustled down the line in order to beat the throw. You can watch the play here.

Here’s Harper’s explanation of the hit, via Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com:

“I just tried to ‘Ichiro’ it,” Harper said, referring to the Mariners great who has made a living out of that fast-pitch softball-style swing. “I just tried to put the bat on the ball. That happened, and I just started running.”

Harper had two singles and a walk last night and is now 4-for-7 with four singles during Grapefruit League action. It would still be a surprise if he broke camp with the team given the obvious service clock considerations, but he’s getting plenty of playing time thus far. Michael Morse was scratched from today’s lineup with a lat strain, so Harper will start in right field for the fourth time in the past five days.

Justin Verlander earns 200th career win

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Astros starter Justin Verlander wasn’t his usual dominant self on Sunday against the Athletics, but he was good enough to get the win. In doing so, he earned the 200th win of his career, becoming the 117th member of the 200-win club.

Verlander went 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts. On the season, Verlander is now 12-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 223/29 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings. Sunday’s win helped the Astros stave off the surging A’s. The Astros now have a one-game lead in the AL West.

Only two active pitchers have more wins than Verlander: Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (244). Zack Greinke will likely be the next member of the 200-win club as he currently has 184 to his name.