Nationals color commentator Kevin Frandsen said this in a mystified tone, as if he had just witnessed a miracle. To be fair, this play was close to one. His reaction – which came after Travis d’Arnaud tagged out Luis Garcia at home plate – likely summed up everyone’s feelings about this insane throw from Harris.
Harris, a five-tool rookie, made one of the most incredible throws you’ll see. It’s not often we would discuss an outfield assist over a home run, but this one warrants the attention.
Harris, a left-handed center fielder, ran to his right to field Juan Soto’s hard-hit single in the bottom of the fifth inning. The ball came at Harris so fast and Garcia was sprinting around third, so Harris didn’t have an opportunity to step into the throw.
Still, he fired a 93.9-mph strike home from around 300 feet out. The throw met d’Arnaud a tad toward the third-base side, which put the catcher in perfect position to tag out Garcia.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Harris said when asked how he threw it that hard and far without setting his feet. “I knew Soto hit it pretty hard, so I had a chance to still get (Garcia) at home. I got it and threw it as soon as I could, and I guess the rest is history.”
The Nationals thought they’d cut the lead to a run, but Harris denied them.
“Being behind home plate and seeing that play was unbelievable,” Braves starter Kyle Wright said.
2. The pitch was above the strike zone. It would have been ball four.
And yet, Harris hammered it 410 feet for a go-ahead, two-run home run off Anibal Sanchez in the top of the fifth inning. This might not have been the craziest thing Harris did in this game – he had the ridiculous throw, after all. But it served as another example of his talent and the way the ball jumps off his bat.
“In BP, I was the type of guy to just swing at anything and see what I could hit, and see how hard I could hit it – even if it’s not in the zone,” Harris said. “I guess sometimes it comes back to bite me, because I know I can get to some balls and drive them as well. I guess it’s practice, and I guess it worked out that at-bat.”
Let’s not forget about the mature at-bat from the 21-year-old. During a 10-pitch battle, Harris fouled off five offerings before crushing a full-count pitch over the wall.
Harris, the reigning National League Player of the Month, has eight home runs and 26 RBIs this season. He has completely changed the Braves.
3. Perhaps no one expected this but Wright and his teammates, but the righty soon made the baseball world believe in it.
He is a different pitcher this year.
“If you look back, it’s super satisfying to kind of see where I was and the amount of struggles I’ve had,” Wright said. “To be here now and put together a good first half so far is really special. Selfishly, it’s pretty cool. But I want to do things bigger than just this. I want to win games and that’s going to continue to be my goal.”
Wright on Thursday allowed two runs over seven innings. He has a 2.95 ERA after his last start before the All-Star break.
At the time he exited the game, his 11 wins were tied for first in the NL. His 108 strikeouts were tied for eighth. His 100 innings rank seventh.
Wright’s turnaround doesn’t seem like a fluke. It appears real.
4. Kenley Jansen, pitching for the second day in a row, walked the tightrope.
He allowed a home run in the ninth inning, but earned the save by striking out Josh Bell, who homered in the first inning, with the tying run on second base to end the game.
“He’s got to get back where he’s got the adrenaline flow and is competing,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He hung in there tonight and kept pitching.”
5. Here’s something wild: The Braves haven’t scored a run in any way other than with a home run since Sunday.
The runs they scored Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against the Mets? All came on homers.
The runs they scored Thursday? Same thing. Dansby Swanson launched a two-run shot in the first inning before Harris homered. In the sixth inning, Matt Olson hit his third homer in as many days.
The Braves have homered nine times in those four games. They are second in baseball with 142 this season.
Stat to know
.824 - Harris’ .824 OPS is first among rookies with enough at-bats to qualify for such rankings.
“I didn’t think he had any chance. When he uncorked that thing, I was like, ‘Oh my Lord.’” - Snitker on Harris’ throw
Right-hander Ian Anderson faces Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin in Friday’s game, which begins at 7:05 p.m.