With the score tied up at 3-3 in the top of the eleventh in the series opener in Citi Field, Bryce Harper started a rally for the visiting Washington Nationals with an opposite field double to left field off Mets’ left-hander Josh Smoker.
Harper battled the former Nats’ prospect for seven pitches before taking a knee-high 95 mph fastball the other way, lining a double by a diving Michael Conforto.
Mets’ skipper Terry Collins put Daniel Murphy on with an intentional walk and went to reliever Jeurys Familia, who threw a wild pitch to Anthony Rendon that allowed Harper to take third, then walked Rendon and pinch hitter Trea Turner to load the bases and force in the go-ahead run in consecutive at bats.
Collins was asked after the 4-3 loss about going to Familia, in just his second outing coming off a 15-game suspension.
“It’s hard, but he’s got to get out there. You can’t pick all the spots. This isn’t a perfect world where you can pick the perfect spot,” Collins said.
“I wasn’t going to have Dan Murphy beat us again. We had some room, bases weren’t loaded, [Familia] just didn’t throw the ball over the plate, which is very uncharacteristic for him.”
“Bryce’s at bat, that was a beautiful at bat,” Dusty Baker told reporters after the Nats’ fifth straight win.
“That was a determination at bat. Our guys worked walks, didn’t swing at bad pitches and we made [Familia] pitch.”
Asked to define a “determination at bat”, Baker offered the following explanation.
“You’ve got to want it,” he said. “That’s what good hitting is all about. It’s a battle. It’s a fight. You don’t give up, you don’t give out.
Harper scored the winning run, drove in two more with a two-run home run off Mets’ starter Matt Harvey (on just his second hit in 27 at bats vs Harvey) and drew a walk as well on another impressive night for the 24-year-old, 2010 No. 1 overall pick, whose hit off Smoker was his seventh in eight at bats against left-handed pitchers this season.
“He’s learning,” Baker said.
“He’s still in the process of learning. I’m sure that Murph has a lot to do with it, helping him, because Murph has been hitting lefties pretty good for a while now.
“You guys come up with these stats,” Baker said to reports, “I don’t care, just keep on keeping on and just keep it coming.
“The main thing is that we won the game, that was heads up baserunning by Bryce to go to third [in the eleventh] and boy, that was some ballgame to play in and win.”