A clever move by Bryce Harper led to the game-changing play that essentially sealed the Washington Nationals’ 8-3 win over the San Diego Padres.
In the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs, Harper was at bat with one man on.
With the count at 2-1, Harper took a swing at a ball that bounced up the first base line, which was fielded by Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso for an easy out to end the inning.
However, Harper came up hobbling after the swing, and the umpires ruled that he fouled the ball off of his foot. Harper took a moment to readjust before continuing the at-bat. Replay showed, though, that Harper hit the ball cleanly — it never touched him, and thus, should have been the third out of the inning.
Here was Harper’s reaction:
Padres manager Pat Murphy tried arguing the call, but the umps stuck to their decision. Harper stayed at bat, took two balls, and then got walked.
After Harper, Yunel Escobar got walked, loading the bases. Ryan Zimmerman then went to bat and hit a grand slam, pushing the score to 8-2.
Had the umpires known Harper didn’t actually get hit by the ball, it would have been a groundout, and the inning would have been over. Instead, the Padres went down six runs going into the seventh inning and never recovered.
Though Harper’s play may have been a little cheap, it’s not unheard of for players to pretend to get hit by pitches. Harper didn’t even get a base out of the fake foul ball — he just kept the inning alive. Trailing the Mets by five-and-a-half games, the Nationals will take any breaks they can get.