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Real or not? Bryce Harper is scary and the Reds' odd way of staying No. 1

Sometimes the play-by-play description does the writing for you. Bryce Harper's Monday night at the old ballyard:

1. Versus Adam Wainwright, RBI single on a grounder to left field.

2. Versus Wainwright, sharp line-drive single to left off a 3-2 curveball.

3. Versus Wainwright, fouls off two two-strike cutters, walks on fastball to load the bases.

4. Versus Brett Cecil, bunt single to lead off the sixth, headfirst slide into first, breaks belt.

5. Versus Kevin Siegrist, walks on 3-1 fastball.

6. Versus Jonathan Broxton, two-run single.

Oh, he also doubled Matt Carpenter off first base for an outfield assist. It was Harper's first 4-for-4 game of his career, his third four-hit game and second time he has reached base six times in a game. That's a pretty rare occurrence; just five players reached base six times in six plate appearances last season, an eclectic list that included Keon Broxton, Wilmer Flores and C.J. Cron (Flores and Cron both went 6-for-6).

The bigger picture here is that Harper is healthy and hacking, hitting .385/.500/.654 in the early going. This is the Harper who won the MVP Award in 2015. Wainwright got to two strikes in all three of their plate appearances but couldn't put Harper away and refused to give in on that 3-2 fastball. That's something Harper is used to; even while he put up mediocre numbers in 2016, pitchers didn't challenge him, as he saw the lowest percentage of pitches in the strike zone of any batter in the majors.

Put it this way: If pitchers were careful with Harper when he was hitting a mere .243 with 24 home runs, imagine how careful they'll be now that he seems to have recovered from the shoulder issue that likely bothered him much of last season. That's going to mean a lot of walks, a lot of RBI opportunities for the hitters behind him and, most likely, more runs scored for the Nationals' offense.

As for the rest of this game, it was pretty ugly. The Nationals won despite committing four errors. Wainwright was terrible, throwing 96 pitches over four innings as he allowed 11 hits. The Cardinals' bullpen struggled once again and is already a topic concern in St. Louis. Mike Matheny also seems a little worried:

There was one piece of good news, however, as Trevor Rosenthal made his season debut and struck out the side in a perfect inning. After a failed attempt to try him as a starter in spring training, getting Rosenthal back to being the closer who saved 93 games in 2014-15 would be a huge boost.

In other action on Monday ...

Cubs raise the banner! Was there a game played after this? Who cares! The last time the Cubs got to raise a World Series banner was after the 1908 season. The player-manager then was Frank Chance, who was born in 1876, once threw beer bottles at fans in Brooklyn and incited a riot at the Polo Grounds another time after physically assaulting Giants pitcher Joe McGinnity. Baseball has changed a lot in 108 years!

Where there's a Wil, there's a cycle. Wil Myers hit for just the second cycle in Padres history in a 5-3 win over the Rockies, tripling in the eighth to complete the feat. As Padres fans know, they had gone a long time with neither a cycle nor a no-hitter, until Matt Kemp delivered the franchise's first cycle in August 2015. It's probably not too surprising to learn that Coors Field has seen the most cycles of any park since it opened in 1995, with 15. Wrigley Field has seen only 10 in its 102-year history.

The Padres are still without that no-hitter, and they're usually on the other end of these feats:

Cycles: Padres 2, opponents 6

No-hitters: Padres 0, opponents 9

Three-HR games: Padres 6, opponents 18

New Buster Posey rule: Batters to hit off tees. Scary moment in the Giants' home opener when Taijuan Walker had a pitch get away from him:

Luckily, Posey is apparently OK, although he did leave the game and is likely to miss Tuesday's game. After that incident, Matt Moore took over for the Giants and showed the best cure for a struggling bullpen is for the starter to pitch eight innings. Moore threw his cutter 21 percent of the time in the 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks, a pitch he has used much more often after coming over from the Rays last summer. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he has thrown his cutter 182 times since his first start with the Giants in August, after throwing it just 85 times in his career with the Rays. The D-backs went 0-for-7 against it with three strikeouts, all looking.

Moore, you might remember, was the starter in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, leaving after eight innings with a 5-2 lead. If he can develop the consistency he always lacked with Tampa Bay -- and maybe the cutter helps him get there -- then the Giants will have one of the best No. 4 starters in the league.

You've never seen this before, because it's never happened before! This was a weird game. Actually, it was incredibly weird. Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow walked four batters in a row in the first inning and left after 1⅔ innings with five walks. But Reds starter Brandon Finnegan walked five batters, as well, in just two innings. Guess what? Since the pitching mound was moved back in 1893, this was the first game in which the two starting pitchers both walked at least five batters while pitching two innings or less. Baseball is amazing!

That wasn't enough, however, because the Reds' bullpen then proceeded to throw seven perfect innings. Reds manager Bryan Price showed some great creativity by using Michael Lorenzen, his nominal setup guy, as the first guy out of the pen, keeping him for three innings. With the early 5-1 lead, Price didn't want to give the game to his sixth- or seventh-best reliever. This is why teams need to develop more of these guys who can go multiple innings (Lorenzen is a former starter). Also: The Reds are in first place! They've homered in all seven games.

Final quick thoughts ... Tough day for injuries, as Trea Turner, Gary Sanchez and Jackie Bradley Jr. all landed on the disabled list, with Sanchez's biceps injury the most serious (he's expected to miss four weeks). ... Michael Pineda retired the first 20 batters in a dominant effort for the Yankees, showing again why his official nickname is The Frustrating Michael Pineda. ... James Paxton might be making The Leap. He has started with two straight scoreless outings for the Mariners. ... I haven't even mentioned that Chris Sale and Justin Verlander locked up in a great pitcher's duel, with Verlander showcasing a wipeout curveball and Sale getting burned late on a bad-hop double. ... Jay Bruce is beloved in New York (at least for this week). ... Jharel Cotton pitched seven scoreless for the A's. While he gave up five runs in his first start, he got dinged to death in that one. The Dodgers might end up regretting trading him. ... Who says baseball players can't have fun? ... And the toasted grasshoppers were a huge success at Safeco Field.