They ended the night with 13 runners left on base, but their first hit with a runner in scoring position was a big one.
Bryce Harper connected on a 97 mph 3-2 fastball from Reds’ reliever Raisel Iglesias, the seventh reliever of the night for Cincinnati, and lined a two-out, walk-off winner to right field in the tenth, bringing Trea Turner in from third base for a come-from-behind 6-5 win in the nation’s capital.
“I just wanted to go home,” Harper told MASN’s Dan Kolko after winning the game. “I didn’t want to play any more extra innings.”
With the hit, Harper’s first in six plate appearances on the night (1 for 5, BB), the 24-year-old slugger finished the night 77 for 250 on the season (.308/.414/.588).
Kolko asked him what it is about the high-pressure situations that brings out the best in him.
“That’s when it matters. That when it matters most, trying to go up there and be as clutch as you can for your team,” Harper said.
Dusty Baker was asked what it is about players like Harper, who continue to come up big in similar circumstances, that sets them apart.
“No. 1, they want to be in that situation,” Baker said. “No. 2, they usually make contact in those situations, and you get a good pitch to hit and you hit to the situation that you’re in, and so you have to have very high concentration in that situation. You’ve got to continue to breathe, so that your heart -- you know your heart is pounding but your mind has to be calm in order to control your beating heart. So that’s a situation where you’ve played that game in your mind a thousand times or in the backyard, and that’s what you live for.”
It was a big night for the Nationals’ offense in spite of the numbers with runners in scoring position.
Brian Goodwin went 3 for 4 with two walks and two home runs, something Baker was happy to see.
On the year, the 26-year-old outfielder has a .265/.326/.578 line with six doubles and six walks in 92 plate appearances.
“Goody, he’s learning,” Baker said. “He’s learning how to hit and he’s learning very quickly, and he listens to instruction and we asked him -- we have a very good batting coach corps here, he works and he wants to stay here. Hunger will drive a man to do more than he knows he’s capable of doing. He seems like he’s kind of unfazed in most situations and he wants to, like I said, he wants to stay here.”
Trea Turner went 2 for 5 with a walk and run scored. Ryan Zimmerman connected for two hits, finishing the night with a .348 AVG.
Daniel Murphy went 1 for 4 with a home run and a walk. Anthony Rendon drew three walks and hit his 13th home run, and Matt Wieters snapped an 0 for 15 stretch with his one hit on the night.
It didn’t start well for the Nationals, with Stephen Strasburg giving up eight hits, two walks and five earned runs in five innings, but the bullpen, an issue for the Nationals this season, came up big with Matt Grace (1.0 IP), Blake Treinen (2.0 IP), Enny Romero (1.0), and Matt Albers (1.0) combining for five scoreless before Harper ended it.
Turner’s two-out single kept hope alive after Iglesias struck out Ryan Raburn and Michael A. Taylor, then Goodwin singled, and Harper came through with the game winner.
“To win a game like that,” Baker said, “with nobody on and two outs after leaving a number of runners on base, we had a lot of chances, but we keep grinding, kept grinding, and man it was great to see Harp come through like that.
“Goody had a big night. He had real big night, and it’s just nice to win one, especially to start this homestand off like this.”