- The Washington Times
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bryce Harper was back in Washington Wednesday, but the former Nationals star wasn’t nearly the focus of attention he was earlier this season — and with some reason: The slumping slugger seems to be on his way to becoming just another guy.

Harper and his Philadelphia Phillies teammates couldn’t muster any thunder against the Nationals in Wednesday’s doubleheader.

Harper went 0-for-2 with two walks and no runs scored in the Nationals’ 6-2 Game 1 win. In the nightcap, he went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks in a 2-0 Nationals win.

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The 26-year-old slugger, who scored 610 runs in seven seasons with the Nationals, hasn’t played to the level of his 2015 MVP status. He’s only scored eight runs for the Phillies this month. He hasn’t scored more than two runs in a single game since April. He’s striking out more than ever. This is the same guy who agreed to a $330 million deal with the Phillies in February.

Back in April, Harper smashed a double off Max Scherzer and hit a two-run homer at Nationals Park. He was on a roll, even if the folks in the stands weren’t having it. While it might have been hard for Nationals fans to admit, Harper was on fire.

Since then, he’s cooled, and this week’s rain — for one game at least — seemed to have put the fire out.

He earned a walk from starter Patrick Corbin and another from reliever Tanner Rainey, and was tagged out by Nationals third basemen Anthony Rendon while trying to advance to third on a single in the sixth inning. The Phillies challenged the call, but after video review, it was confirmed Harper was out.

Finally, after two rainy nights, Nationals fans could boo Harper as he raced to third, and they could cheer for Rendon, as Harper stepped off the field.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he liked Harper’s “ultra-aggressive, base-running play,” but it wasn’t perfect.

“I think Bryce, if he was sitting right here, would say ‘I hesitated just slightly and it cost us a safe play,’” Kapler said.

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