Bryce Harper looked to let the air out of Zack Greinke's sails Sunday amid his historic run of scoreless innings, saying he wasn't as impressed as most due to the help the right-hander got from the plate umpire.
Harper, seemingly frustrated over Bill Miller's strike zone in the Washington Nationals' 5-0 loss to the streaking Greinke and Los Angeles Dodgers, asserted "when you're getting 6 inches off the plate, it's tough to face him."
"For me, I don't think he was very tough," Harper said, according to The Washington Post. "He's a great pitcher. He does what he does."
In doing what he does Sunday, Greinke held the Nationals to three hits in eight innings, struck out a season-high 11 and extended his scoreless innings streak to 43⅔. He also improved to 9-2 with an MLB-best 1.30 ERA.
His scoreless innings string is the longest in the majors since Orel Hershiser set the major league record of 59 shutout innings in 1988 with the Dodgers.
Harper later amended his comments, calling Greinke "a damn good pitcher."
"I don't want to give him too much credit because I gotta face him again," Harper said, according to The Post, which reported he struck out swinging in the seventh inning after taking what appeared to be ball four on a low-and-in breaking ball before prematurely jogging up the first-base line and returning to the plate visibly frustrated.
After swinging for the third strike, Harper clenched a fist and yelled before returning to the dugout, The Post's report said.
Things don't get any easier for Washington, which welcomes the New York Mets for a three-game series beginning Monday. The Mets' probable starters in that set average an ERA of 2.75.
"Do you want us to duck tail and run?" said Nationals cleanup hitter Clint Robinson, who singled in three at-bats against Greinke. "I've said before, this is the big leagues, that's part of it. These guys are the best in the world for a reason, and you've just got to go out there and rise up to the challenge."
Greinke also walked one on 119 pitches.
The Nationals finally reached second base in the ninth inning against reliever J.P. Howell when Harper singled and reached second on a throwing error.
"You just have to get them in the strike zone and then, you know, put a good swing on it and hope something good happens," Robinson said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.