LOS ANGELES — While the temperature in Los Angeles has been warmer than average this week, Bryce Harper has been even hotter as he operates in an unquestioned comfort zone.
It makes sense really. After all, Harper made his major league debut at Dodger Stadium a little over 10 years ago, on April 28, 2012, when he got the call up from the Nationals when he was 19 years old.
Maybe it’s also the hot, dry air that makes the Las Vegas-area native feel energetic enough to hit home runs in the first three games of the series. The most recent came in the Phillies’ 8-3 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night.
However, it still seems hard to deny that his offensive prowess isn’t tied to something more immediate. Not only has Harper shown off his power swing this week, but he’s gone 8-for-12 in the series with eight RBIs, all since learning that the small tear in the UCL in his right elbow won’t cost him much time. match. Seven of those hits were for extra-base hits.
“I think being able to get some clarity has been huge and I know where he is at right now,” Harper said. “I’m just going to stick with it until I know more.”
Yet from his corner locker under Dodger Stadium on Saturday night, Harper had an expanded view of what truly has him at peace.
“I think 11 years ago I made my debut here and it brings back a lot of memories, a lot of family and friends who were here. A lot of those people were here tonight,” Harper said. “[But] I think that being able to… know where I am now, with [this] team and an organization, I’m so happy to be a Phillie.”
Harper won’t play the outfield for at least a month, but he knows for a fact that he will be the designated hitter. However, he will be out of Sunday’s series finale, and possibly at home on Tuesday against the Padres after receiving an injection of platelet-rich plasma to the area of injury.
But when it comes to producing a single series, Harper has already done her part and more. His three-run homer in the third inning on Saturday, off Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias, no less, put the Phillies up 6-1.
“We only know [Urías] it’s really good,” Harper said. “He’s a 20-game winner for a reason last year and we’re just trying to get a jump on shooting in the zone, not let him get ahead of us. When he gets ahead of the guys, he shuts the door on them.”
It meant a third of his home runs on the season came in the series, while the three in Los Angeles since Thursday matched his total from his previous 23 games in baseball’s third-oldest ballpark.
Add in the home runs by Jean Segura, Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins on Saturday and it means the Phillies have 29 runs scored in the three games. The club’s previous high for runs in a three-game stretch at Dodger Stadium was 26 in June 1976.
The record for runs in a three-game stretch by a Dodgers opponent at Dodger Stadium is 31 by the San Francisco Giants in 2013.
“[Harper] he’s in a great place and it’s great to see him,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Obviously it’s very important to our offense, but we’ve got other guys in good spots as well, which really helps. Harp hits a three-run homer, Jean hits a three-run homer.”
Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner has spent three full days watching his former Nationals teammate circle the bases. He knows what vintage Harper is all about.
“He feels like he’s the best player in the world,” Turner said. I saw him for years there [in Washington]but since he’s been in Philly the last couple of years, you feel like he’s had a bad year, then you look at his numbers and he’s got a .900 OPS and he’s hitting really well.
“And then years, when it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s playing good,’ he wins MVP. He’s kind of crazy: the numbers he can put up offensively are really special, and he’s in a class of his own. That’s why he won MVP last year, that’s why he’s doing what he’s doing.”
With two of the best offenses facing off, runs were definitely expected. However, what the Phillies are doing couldn’t have been predicted.
“We haven’t seen a lot of races like this until, actually, this week,” manager Joe Girardi said not only of his team, but of games across the league. “You’ve noticed it’s gotten warmer, more runs have been put on the board around baseball. … You don’t really expect it, but it happens.”