We've seen how strong Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper is thanks to his mammoth home runs and blistering line drives.
But, on Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles, Harper turned in what may be the ultimate proof of his strength during his at-bat in the bottom of the second inning.
With the Nationals holding a 4-0 lead and Harper facing a 3-2 count, he fouled off a pitch from Baltimore starter Alec Asher to stay alive in the at-bat.
However, as you can see in the video below, Harper fouled the pitch off so forcefully that he literally tore the cover off the ball:
Though it will simply be recorded as a foul ball, the strength and luck needed to smack a baseball like that were impressive to watch. Harper would end up drawing a walk and then stealing second base later in the inning.
The swing was so ferocious that Harper also lost his batting helmet, though that may have just been a ploy to show off his stylish hair to the home crowd.
Harper finished the game 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored as the Nationals cruised to a 6-1 victory. The game was a makeup date after the regularly scheduled contest was rained out back in May.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker was impressed with the way his team battled on what should have been an off day after a long cross-country flight following a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that ended on Wednesday evening (via ESPN.com):
"This team comes to play. They don't complain about anything, which is what I like," Baker said. "I don't really like complainers. My dad didn't like complainers."
Indeed, the Nationals took care of business and improved to 38-21 on the season. They hold an 11.5-game lead over the second-place New York Mets in the National League East division.
The Orioles, on the other hand, fell to 31-27 with the loss and trail the New York Yankees by 3.5 games in the AL East race. The Orioles were also feeling the effects of the makeup game, with their manager citing fatigue as a factor in the loss:
"We've had two extra-inning games and you jump up and get on a bus, just like they get on a plane to cross the country," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "Usually it boils down to the only people that get normal rest -- and that's the two starting pitchers."
Nationals starter Joe Ross struck out 12 batters in 7.1 innings of work, while Baltimore's Asher only lasted four innings, giving up five runs in the process.
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