‘The Only One’: Harper Unstoppable in LA


LOS ANGELES — It’s been warmer than normal in Los Angeles this week, but even hotter because Bryce Harper is undoubtedly active in his comfort zone.

It really makes sense. Eventually, Harper made his major league debut at Dodger Stadium more than a decade ago on April 28, 2012, when he was called by the Nationals at the age of 19.

Perhaps the Las Vegas area’s unique feel is due to the air hot and dry enough to hit a home run in the first three games of the series. The most recent game was Saturday night when the Phillies beat the Dodgers 8-3.

But it still seems hard to deny that his attack power isn’t tied to something more immediate. Not only did Harper show off his power swing this week, but he also had an 8-h-12 in the series with 8 RBIs. It’s all because I’ve found that a slight tear in the UCL on my right elbow doesn’t require significant playtime. Seven of those hits were for extra base.

“I think it’s been a huge help to have some clarity about it, and I know where it is now,” Harper said. “I’ll just go until I know more.”

But late on Saturday night in a corner locker deep underground at Dodger Stadium, Harper got a broader view of what truly puts him at peace.

“I debuted here 11 years ago and I think it reminds me of many memories, family, and friends I had here. A lot of people were here tonight,” said Harper. “[But] I think I can… know where I am now. [this] The team and the organization, I am so happy with Phillie.”

Harper won’t be out of the outfield for at least a month, but he knows for sure he’ll be the designated hitter. However, he will be knocked out of the series finale on Sunday and will probably be home for a match against Padres on Tuesday after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection at the site of the injury.

But as far as being made into a single series, Harper has already done more than just his share. In the third inning on Saturday, his three-run homer overtook Dodgers left-hander Julio Urrias to lead the Phillies 6-1.

“We just know. [Urías] It’s great,” said Harper. “He won 20 games last year for a reason. And we’re just trying to raise the pitch in the zone to make sure he doesn’t get ahead of us. If he gets ahead of people, he closes the door to them.”

That means a third of the season’s home runs come from the series, while the three home runs in LA since Thursday match the total of home runs in the previous 23 games at the third oldest ballpark in baseball.

Adding home runs from Jean Segura, Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins on Saturday means the Phillies have scored 29 points in three games. His three-game hitting streak at Dodger Stadium was 26 points in June 1976.

His three-game hitting streak against the Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium was 31 points for the 2013 San Francisco Giants.

“[Harper] Coach Joe Girardi is in a good position and looks great. “Obviously he is very important for our offense, but we have other players in a good position, which really helps. Harp hits a three-run home run, and Jin hits a three-run home run.”

Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner watched his former Nationals teammates roam base for three days. He knows what a vintage Harper is.

“I think he’s the best player in the world,” Turner said. “I saw it there for several years. [in Washington]But since he hasn’t played for Philadelphia in the last few years, I feel he’s been having a bad year, so looking at his numbers, he’s .900 OPS and he’s hitting really well.

“Then, for a few years, when you say, ‘Oh, he’s playing good,’ he wins the MVP. It’s kind of crazy. The numbers he can aggressively raise are really special and he’s one of a kind. That’s why he won the MVP last year and that’s why he’s doing what he’s doing now.”

The scoring was expected to be the most certain as two of the best offenses are facing each other. But what the Phillies were doing was unpredictable.

Coach Joe Girardi had this to say about the game not only for his team, but the league as a whole. “As the days warmed up, he must have noticed that more runs were coming up around the ballpark,” he said. … You don’t really expect it, but it happens.”

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