He said he was really pumped up when he scored on Ian Desmond’s three-run game-changing double in a five-run sixth inning.
“I was fired up. I crossed the plate and looked out and Desi yelled,” Harper said. “I think having such a deep lineup is huge. One through eight, pick your poison. Because you’re gonna get a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark or hit a double or anything like that. Desi came up huge right there with the bases loaded knock and really fired this place up.”
Desmond was happy to see Harper back in the lineup simply for the energy he brings to each play.
“It’s a strong lineup. I don’t think there are two many opposing pitchers out there that want to see it,” Desmond said. “It was nice to have Bryce back, he brings a lot of energy to our team when he plays this way. The way he went about his business today, putting pressure on the defense, made a good throw back to first base. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the guy out. That’s the kind of stuff he does when he plays, he impacts the game. We need him out there everyday.”
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman contributed three hits and an RBI in his first game back at third base after 25 starts in left field. He was happy to have the opening day lineup back in tact for the first time in well, since opening day.
“We had some chances. Obviously, we’ve had people out all year,” Zimmerman said. “But we’ve had a pretty good team even with those people out. So to have everyone back, it’s obviously a longer lineup and tougher to pitch against. But we still got to get hits and do the right thing.”
Zimmerman said it did feel odd to be back at the corner infield slot even after playing there in over 1,000 games in his career.
“It was different. But I played there quite a bit,” Zimmerman said. “I took some balls there the last week or so to get ready for it. Obviously different from left field, but not too bad.
“It’s definitely going to take some adjustment. Still have a lot of work to do to continue to try to get where I want to be. It felt OK.”
Desmond was asked about Zimmerman’s play at third Monday, which included a double play throw in the seventh to stop a Rockies rally.
“I would say it was really impressive if I hadn’t seen like 500 other times,” Desmond said. “He’s a good third baseman, there’s no doubt about that. Obviously we are in a very good situation with Anthony (Rendon) being able to play third and second at the level he does and Zim being able to play left and third at the level he does. I knew he was new to left field, but he did a good job out there. I’m assuming that won’t be the last time we see him out there.”
Both Zimmerman and Desmond have scuffled a bit at the plate recently, so combining for five hits and four RBI was exhilarating.
“It was good. Obviously, I haven’t been hitting the ball the way I wanted to, but that’s all right,” Zimmerman said. ‘It’s going to go like that sometimes during the year. You just got to keep working and keep going out there and tonight I was able to get some big hits.”
“I just try to do the same thing I do every other time,” Desmond said of bases clearing three-run double in the sixth. “Good situation to hit in. Bases loaded, less than two outs. That’s what you are looking for.”
Zimmerman likes what he sees with everyone back on the field, but doesn’t want to get ahead of himself feeling good about the potential.
“There’s been a lot of good teams that haven’t done anything,” Zimmerman said. “We know that we have a good team but we also know that doesn’t win us any games. We got to go out there and do things the right way and get hits. Nobody is going to look at our lineup and just give us games. But it’s nice to have everyone back.
“We have a good group of guys. Like I have said all along, most of the guys in here, all of the guys in here, are going to do whatever it takes to win and I think if that means having a day off, nobody likes to take days off, honestly days off are nice sometimes even if you don’t want them.”
He also doesn’t mind if winning also entails days off and position switches for veterans during the second half of the season.
“If we want to continue to win games, and do what we think we should do, those days off now might help you later in the season when you really need them,” Zimmerman said. “It’s going to be a tough job for Matt. I think it’s a good problem to have too many players and not enough spots. Usually things like that work themselves out, but as long as we keep winning everything will be fine.”
The Nationals pitching staff continues to roll, especially winning pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (6-4) who has now not allowed more than two earned runs in six consecutive starts following Monday’s win.
“I thought I pitched pretty well,” Zimmermann said. “Really only had two pitches, fastball and slider the whole game, And I didn’t throw any curveballs, a few changeups. Mixed them up pretty good.
“Sixth inning I gave up a few hard hits. Went in (to) Tulo (Troy Tulowitzki) the whole game with fastballs and he finally got to one. (Drew) Stubbs was a slider that just stayed middle and (Justin) Morneau was a changeup that was hit up the middle. Then I had to buckle down a little bit and try to get out of that inning.”
Zimmermann was able to adjust on the fly without his curveball.
“Just didn’t have a very good feel in the bullpen,” Zimmermann said. “I’d throw it in between innings and didn’t really have the feel the whole game so I didn’t want to make a mistake with that when I didn’t have a very good feel.”