St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitcher Genesis Cabrera appeared to think he’d gotten one of the most feared sluggers in the game, Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper, to pop out in the third inning of Wednesday’s game.
That would explain why Cabrera pointed up to the sky after Harper made contact with his breaking ball as if to say, “Pop fly, who’s got it?”
But he soon realized the ball had traveled a lot farther than he initially thought. The high fly sailed roughly 407 feet to land over the left-center field wall at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia for a home run.
It was quite a welcome-to-the-majors moment for Cabrera, 22, who was making his major-league debut.
Cabrera only lasted three and two-thirds innings, allowing five runs, three of them earned, on five hits. He took the loss.
The Phillies went on to win the game Wednesday 11-4, but then lost to the Cardinals on Thursday by a score of 5-3.
The 33-23 Phillies are currently in first place in the National League East. They hold a three-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the division.
Harper, meanwhile, had a monster game Wednesday, with three hits and four runs batted in.
He tacked on three more hits Thursday, another sign that the highly paid slugger is starting to heat up at the plate.
Earlier this month, Harper was hitting a dreadful .219. He’s since raised his average to .252, with 10 home runs and 41 runs batted in.
And in his last 12 at-bats, Harper has eight hits.
So what’s behind Harper’s hot streak?
“It’s the lowest effort level that we’ve seen from him all year,” Phillies hitting coach John Mallee told manager Gabe Kapler about Harper, according to MLB.com.
But what does that actually mean?
“When your effort level is low, your muscles fire fast. You see the ball longer. It’s a decision that hitters make,” Kapler said.
It sounds like Harper was “swinging too hard” and pressing too much, as MLB.com noted. Being the recipient of a $300 million contract will do that to a hitter.
These days, Harper is trying not to overthink it.
“I don’t want to get too much into it, just because I don’t want to think about it,” Harper said after Wednesday’s game.
“I’m just trying to relax up there, hit pitches that are in the zone. I want to answer your question, but I don’t want to think about it to tell you the truth.”
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