TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Bryce Harper had a game to remember against the team he cheered for as a kid in Las Vegas.
The highly touted teenager drove in his first big league run with an eighth-inning RBI single and the Washington Nationals beat the New York Yankees 10-8 on Saturday.
“Did I get an RBI?” Harper joked. “Definitely, today especially, I saw the ball better. I felt like when I went up there I’m getting into a pretty good rhythm seeing pitches.”
Harper, taken first overall in last June’s draft and given a $9.9 million, five-year contract, went 1 for 2. He grounded out in his first at-bat, in the seventh.
“His mindset is totally in Washington, trying to be a force in the middle of our lineup in the near future,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said.
The 18-year old, who grew up a Yankees’ fan, played against New York for the first time. Harper has two hits in 10 at-bats overall.
“It was awesome,” Harper said. “It’s really cool, coming in here, having all the fans and everything like that. Seeing CC (Sabathia), (Nick) Swisher, all those guys. A-Rod sitting over there, and Robinson Cano. It was a great feeling.”
Harper’s day had an awkward start when he swung at and missed the first pitch he saw in batting practice. Soon after he was hitting shots all around the park.
“It’s pretty amazing what he’s doing at 18,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Sabathia struggled in his second spring training start, allowing five runs and six hits over 2 2-3 innings. The left-hander walked two and struck out one. He threw just 28 of 53 pitches for strikes.
“A couple years ago I, probably, would have took it home with me,” said Sabathia, the expected opening day starter. “But I just called my wife and she started laughing. It’s come to that. It’s just one of those games. I felt good. I just couldn’t work off anything. I couldn’t really get into a count where I could get a strikeout.”
The Nationals scored once in the first and added four more runs – including a solo homer by Jeff Frazier – during a four-run third that made it 5-0.
Jorge Vazquez drove in a pair with a double during an eight-run fourth that put the Yankees up 8-7. Matt Stairs hit an RBI double in a two-run seventh before Harper’s line single to right one inning later gave Washington a 10-8 advantage.
Nationals starter Chad Gaudin gave up five runs and three hits in three-plus innings.
NOTES: Riggleman is hopeful that RHP Chien-Ming Wang (surgery for torn right shoulder capsule) could return in May. “When he gets back, he’s going to be really good,” Riggleman said. … Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano could throw his final batting practice session in preparation for game action Monday. … New York RHP Joba Chamberlain allowed two runs, two hits and two walks in one inning. … New York C Francisco Cervelli, who found out Friday that he will need to wear a protective boot at least four weeks for a broken left foot, is staying upbeat. “A little sad yesterday … today I feel positive,” he said. … Yankees C Jesus Montero took a foul ball off his right hand, but Girardi doesn’t expect it to be a problem.
Box Score: Washington Nationals vs. New York Yankees