Bryce Harper pulled a Ricky Nolasco breaking ball into the seats for a solo homer on his first swing of the season and then took Nolasco deep again in the fourth inning. Two at-bats, two solo bombs on hanging breaking balls for the 20-year-old reigning Rookie of the Year who hit .478 this spring.
Calcaterra says to remind everyone that he picked Harper to win NL MVP in today’s “HBT Extra” video, so … whatever.
Also worth mentioning: Now that Harper is growing out his beard the Nationals’ outfield is tough to beat for overall beard-ness, with Jayson Werth always dominating and Denard Span always solid. Could be an overlooked key this season.
UPDATE: In his third at-bat Harper squared around to bunt on 0-1, took a bunch of pitches to make it 3-1, and then flied out to medium left-center. What a bum.
UPDATE #2: Harper is the youngest player ever to homer multiple times on Opening Day. He’s more than a year younger than the previous record-holder, Don Money.
TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.
Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.
If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.
“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”
Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.
The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.
Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.