Bryce Harper was 0 for 6 with two walks on the series in the second game the Washington Nationals' four-game set with the Atlanta Braves when he stepped to the plate in the eighth inning of last night's matchup.
Gio Gonzalez and Jhoulys Chacin battled through six scoreless innings each before both managers turned things over to their bullpens.
Shawn Kelley, in the seventh, and Oliver Perez and Blake Treinen, in the eighth, held the Braves off the board, and Hunter Cervenka and Chris Withrow got Atlanta through the seventh, but in the home-half of the eighth inning, right-handed reliever Jim Johnson got himself in a jam.
Stephen Drew singled to center with one out (connecting for his first hit as a National) and Anthony Rendon worked a six-pitch walk, bringing Bryce Harper to the plate.
Braves' skipper Fredi Gonzalez went to the bullpen for left-hander Eric O'Flaherty and the lefty on lefty matchup.
Harper stepped in 1 for 7 against the southpaw in their respective careers, having struck out while facing the reliever the previous night and jumped on a first-pitch curve outside, sending a two-run double to left field where Jeff Francoeur just missed making a sliding catch.
Two runs scored, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead.
Harper was pumped. Dusty Baker was pumped... and profane. Television cameras captured Baker in the dugout clapping his hands and screaming some excited obscenities.
He was embarrassed when he was told about that after the game.
"I'm sure my momma is gonna be on the phone," Baker said, drawing laughs from reporters.
"I'm not kidding," he said. "She'll call me as soon as I get in the car. You know like that commercial on tv where the mother calls and that guy is... that's my momma."
As for Harper's big hit? Baker said jumping on the first pitch made sense in that situation.
"Usually the best pitch to hit with runners on base or in scoring position is usually the first pitch," Baker said.
"I was always taught by Jim Gilliam and some quality hitters like Tony Perez and these guys, they said that first pitch is usually the best pitch because then the pitcher is going to try to get ahead of you and then he's going to work on you.
"And there's only two things they can do to you. They can either get ahead of you and then work on you or they can run from you and if you don't chase them then run at you in that situation.
"He didn't want to get behind, he got the pitch up some and young man had a pretty good, like I said, you keep hearing me say about, a good idea. He has a good idea about what he's looking for and what to hit."
"I know O'Flaherty," Harper said. "He likes to get that first pitch strike, so I was trying to go up there and battle as best I could.
"Had some terrible at bats the previous five at bats, so I think just trying to get up there and do something and get it done."
Harper also went through his thought process in the moments leading up to what ended up being the game-winning hit.
"I saw the left side of the field was open," he explained.
"I'm just trying to get something out over the plate that I can hit that hole with. Backspun it a little bit, cut it a little bit to where I was able to get it down the left field line.
"O'Flaherty's tough. I think facing him earlier in my career -- I knew that he was tough and facing him twice in the previous games, so I mean, he's very, very good up there so tried to jump on something early and it worked out."
Did he see his manager's expletive-charged reaction to his big hit?
"I didn't, no," Harper said. "I saw the whole dugout pretty fired up about it. They're definitely excited. Just excited to get those runs in with two outs right there and get us that 'W'."
With the win, the Nationals improved to 5-1 on the year...
Last DC-based ballclub to start the season 5-1? 1951 Senators.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 13, 2016
Until tonight. pic.twitter.com/RnMuCMsqG4