A day after he upbraided members of the media in Nationals Park on Wednesday over the coverage of some comments he made in a radio appearance in the nation's capital about 21-year-old slugger Bryce Harper in response to a question about potentially sending the 2010 no.1 overall pick to the minors to work out his offensive issues, first-year Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams sat at the podium after Harper hit a walk-off winner in the 13th inning of the Nats' series finale with the New York Mets.
"So, Bryce staying up here with you guys?" a reporter joked.
"Yeah," Williams said. "That was a good swing. He had a couple of good ones today. It's coming. Happy for him. Happy for our guys. They battled."
Harper went 2 for 6 with a run scored, two RBIs and two Ks.
The Nats' third-year outfielder was 0 for 4 before he singled to right in the 11th.
The next time up, he faced Mets' reliever Carlos Torres with a runner on after Ian Desmond walked to start the 13th.
Torres started Harper with ball, then threw him a 91 mph fastball knee-high and over the middle of the plate that Harper sent the other way and three or four rows deep into the left field seats for a walk-off blast, his fourth HR of the year and his first opposite field blast since last August.
The fact that Harper went the other way was a good sign according to Williams.
"It's even better," he said. "That he's seeing it, letting the ball get deep, waiting. That's a good sign. We had a lot of opportunities, it didn't happen. But that one was really good. He stayed on that one really well."
Harper told reporters after the game, that he wasn't sure what Torres threw him, and he was just trying to barrel something up.
"I was actually going to go look and see what it was," Harper said, "because I was just trying to barrel something. It got to the point where I was just trying to get something out, over, and try to punish it and I got a pitch that I could drive and I was happy with the result."
The two hits in the third game of three with the Mets left him 3 for 13 in the three-game series with New York, 5 for 25 so far in August, 6 for 29 on the homestand and 24 for 107 since he returned from the DL on June 30th.
"I've been feeling pretty good lately," Harper said. "I just have to keep battling, keep grinding, keep coming in trying to work hard and get my swing back where it needs to be. Hopefully in the next month and a half I can get it going and everybody has been picking up my slack pretty much and everybody has been swinging the bat well and hopefully I can get it going."
After going 4-4 at home against the Phillies, Orioles and Mets, the Nationals head down to Atlanta to start a three-game set with the Braves, who are 4.5 games behind the Nats in the NL East as the series starts.
"We're just going to go in and play some games," Harper said when asked about the importance of the weekend series.
"We're going to try to win some ballgames, of course," Harper said. "Atlanta's very good. They're very good at home and they just came off an eight-game losing streak, so they're going to want our throat. Hopefully we can go in there, we've got three good starters going and hopefully we can win some ballgames."
Asked if it was important for him to end the homestand on a high note after struggling at the plate in recent weeks, Harper said he didn't necessarily think things were as bad as some might.
"I don't think I'm struggling, struggling that bad to the point where, 'Man, he looks terrible,'" he said. "I think, of course I've been struggling a little bit, but I've hit some balls that have just been right at people sometimes, you've just got to tip your cap and play this game.
"The game is pretty humbling sometimes, but like I said, I just want to have fun, and try to come in here, laugh and smile and hopefully at the end of the day we can win ballgames and get to where I need to be."
Matt Williams was happy to get the win, especially with Harper contributing, and head off to Atlanta on a positive note, but before he finished his post game press conference with reporters, he took a moment to address his comments from the previous day.
"One last thing," he said. "I didn't sleep much last night. So I wanted to apologize to the members of the press about my actions yesterday. I get passionate about these guys and their success and our wins and losses, but that was -- my tact wasn't real good. So, from me to you, I apologize for that, I'll be better from now on."