June 5, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits the game winning one-run RBI single in the twelfth inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Mets 7 - 6 in twelve innings. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
"Wild game," Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson said after last night's extra innings win over the New York Mets. "It wasn't a very well played game, but it was nice to come out on top." Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond did a lot of the heavy lifting, helping to tie the game three times with an RBI single in the eighth after the Mets took a 4-3 lead, a sharp grounder off Mets' shortstop Jordany Valdespin that brought a tying run in in the tenth and an RBI double in the 12th that tied the game a third time before headline-stealing 19-year-old Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper hit the first walk-off winner of his career. Desmond ended the game 2 for 6 with three RBI's, accomplishing something in the process that hasn't happened in the majors in over 40 years:
ELIAS: Desmond is 1st player with three tying/go-ahead RBI-events in 8th inning or later of a game since CIN's Art Shamsky vs. PIT in '66.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 6, 2012
But even Desmond was in awe of the Nationals' 2010 no.1 overall pick when the game was over, after Harper had lined a bases-loaded, two-out, opposite field single to left off Mets' reliever Elvin Ramirez to win the game and keep Washington in first place in an upside-down NL East. "'He's unbelievable,'" Desmond told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, after the game, "'One of the best players I've ever seen, to be honest.'"
Even more impressive was the fact that Ramirez, a 24-year-old in his second major league appearance, had blown Harper away when he faced him the previous inning, getting the Nats' outfielder on four pitches that were further and further away and got Harper to chase. As Harper headed to the plate, his 69-year-old manager, Davey Johnson, offered some advice. "[Ramirez] struck him out the time before on [four] pitches," Johnson told reporters, "And I said, 'Well we can't go through that again,' and then [Ramirez] made a good pitch for the second strike and [Harper] hit an almost identical pitch for a base hit and it was great hitting."
"He doesn't usually chase," Johnson said of the first Harper at bat vs Ramirez, confirming with reporters that the 19-year-old had chased balls outside of the zone. But Harper was ready for the Mets' right-hander's 96mph fastball the second time up, and he took the 0-2 heater outside the other way for a line drive over short that fell in front of left fielder Vinny Rottino. "[Harper] makes some good adjustments," Johnson deadpanned, "It was nice to see."
"Pretty amazing right there," Harper told reporters after the game, "Especially in that type of environment, that type of game, and that type of meaning... I'm pretty speechless right now. It's pretty unbelieveable." Asked about the previous at bat when he'd K'd swinging, Harper said, "[Ramirez] got me out of my comfort zone that first AB I faced him. He was effectively wild and he got me, so I've got to tip my cap. And I was thinking, 'If I go up there again I'm going to get him. So I got him and won the game and it was a great opportunity and it was just a great experience out there."
• AUDIO: Listen to Bryce Harper's MLB Network Radio interview, recorded before last night's game: