Taking a 100 MPH fastball to the face is one of the scariest incidents in sports. If a player can't get out of the way in time, they risk fracturing their jaw or face and can fully expect a black eye or two. Maybe even a broken nose.
It's even scarier when one of the faces of baseball is drilled with a pitch in his face.
All of MLB collectively held its breath when Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper wore a 97 MPH heater off his mug in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. The video is enough to make anyone's stomach churn.
Bryce Harper Hit By Pitch
Scary scene as Bryce Harper takes a HBP to the face but leaves the game under his own power pic.twitter.com/CCcVq1AMF0
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) April 29, 2021
Cardinals reliever Génesis Cabrera uncorked a 97 MPH heater from his left hand with his first pitch of the sixth inning. It struck the 28-year-old, six-time All-Star, and 2015 National League MVP in the left cheek.
Somehow, Harper was able to walk off the field under his own power as blood dripped from the side of his nose.
The slugger posted a postgame video to his Instagram account telling everyone he was OK while showing off some minor swelling and bruising on social media. The caption read, "97 to the face. Sweet."
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"What up everybody. Bryce Harper here. Everything feels good. Everything came back good. CT, all that kind of stuff. Face is still there, so we're all good. See you guys soon," he said.
Cabrera's very next pitch beaned Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius in the back. Both benches were warned. That led to a pissed-off Phillies manager Joe Girardi, who came out of the dugout to argue and was ejected by home plate umpire Chris Segal.
The back-to-back hit-by-pitches might not have happened if not for MLB's new three-batter minimum rule enacted in 2020 to speed up games. A pitcher who enters a game must face at least three batters.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt told USA Today that he would have taken the wild Cabrera out of the game after Harper was hit.
"It was a tie game. It was right in his spot," Shildt told USA Today. "It was completely unfortunate the ball got away from him. Our prayers are with Bryce Harper and we hope he's OK.
"It's a failure of the three-batter minimum. Completely, absolutely no doubt."
Cabrera told ESPN he was "overthrowing."
"My prayers go out to Bryce Harper. I really wish him the best. I hope he has a speedy recovery. The game kind of got away from me at that point. I'm really sorry for everything that happened today; none of it was intentional," he said.
It may have been unintentional, but any big league pitcher with such little command belongs in the minor leagues.
Matt Joyce entered the game for Harper. Gregorius stayed in. Cabrera surrendered an RBI single the following at-bat to Andrew McCutchen, who watched all of the events unfold.
"Man, that was tough watching that," McCutchen told USA Today.
Phillies reliever and former San Francisco Giants player Sam Coonrod was visibly angry with the Cardinals afterward. One has to wonder if a retaliation hit-by-pitch is coming in this series.
Sam Coonrod screams at the Cardinals for hitting Bryce Harper & Didi Gregorius.
First showing of a player responding. #Phillies #RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/ENr0WD4Z4Z
— Hunter Brody (@Brodes81) April 29, 2021
Phillies star Bryce Harper was out of the lineup for Thursday's game. It looks like Harper avoided serious injury from the 97 MPH pitch.
Let's hope the superstar home run hitter gets back in the box soon. Philly is going to need him if they want to contend in the NL with playoff-caliber teams like the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets.
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