Harper on his walk-off winner; Zimmermann on the seventh inning

Left fielder Bryce Harper hit his 46th career home run, the second walk-off homer of his career, as the Nationals beat the Mets 5-3 in 13 innings. The two-run shot off of Carlos Torres earned the Nationals their first win in the last 10 extra-inning games at home.

“I knew it was gone. I felt it,” Harper said. “It was a ball that I thought I hit pretty well. Torres got me last night with a curveball down and in. I didn’t think I would really see anything over the dish. He’s got a pretty good cutter. All I was thinking was hit a ball to left center and try to win a ball game.

“I haven’t got extension on a ball in a pretty long time. I was just trying to let my barrel work and try put the bat on the ball and let it do some work.”

Harper said the second walk-off homer of his young career was pretty special.

“It’s great for the second time,” he said. “Being able to hit a walk-off in the 13th inning, I know everybody wants to get out of there. For the fans to be able to stick around like that was great. Hopefully we can keep it rolling and go down to Atlanta and play some ballgames.”

He also got doused twice with Gatorade.

“I did,” Harper said. “I think Gatorade’s going to be pretty happy about that.”

Right after the game, he still didn’t know what kind of pitch he had hit to win it. The second pitch of the at-bat turned out to be a two-seam fastball.

“I was actually going to go look and see what it was,” Harper said. “I was just trying to barrel something. It got to the point where I was trying to get something out over and try to punish it. I got a pitch that I could drive and was happy with the result.”

harper-span-walk-off-celebration.pngEven though he had went 0-for-4 to start the game, Harper did feel like he hit the ball well in his first two at-bats, something he has felt recently at the plate.

“I’ve been feeling pretty good lately,” Harper said. “I got to keep battling, keep grinding. Keep coming in trying to work hard. Get my swing back where it needs to be, hopefully in the next month-and-a-half I can get it going.

“Everybody’s been picking up my slack pretty much. Everybody’s been swinging the bat well. Hopefully I can get it going.”

Harper said it hasn’t been anything that jumps out in his approach the past few games that has a made a difference.

“Trying to have fun. I mean really,” Harper said. “Trying to come in here with a positive attitude every single day. It’s nice we’ve been winning ballgames. That’s all you can ask for. My results are my results. I just want to come in here and laugh, smile and have some fun.

“I don’t think I’m struggling, struggling, that bad where to the point where ‘man, he looks terrible’. Of course, I’ve been struggling a little bit. I’ve hit some balls that have been just right at people sometimes. You just have to tip your cap and play this game. Game’s pretty humbling sometimes. I just want to have fun.”

Can one swing get him on a roll?

“In my mind I’m hoping so,” Harper said. “Definitely. But of course you know this game. It’s nice to be able to start over every day. Cause you go 0-for-4 one day, 4-for-4 the next day, go on a streak where your hitting .320 and you go on a week where your hitting .120. That’s just part of the game. Hopefully we can keep winning ball games and stay in first place. We got a great team and it’s a lot of fun being in here right now.”

The Nationals head to Atlanta with a 4 1/2 game lead in the NL East. But the Braves have won seven of the first ten games in the season series.

“We’re just going to go in there and play some games,” Harper said. “We’re going to try to win some ballgames of course. Atlanta is very good. They’re very good at home. They just came off an eight-game losing streak so they’re going to want our throat. We got three good starters going. Hopefully we can win some ball games.”

Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann is well aware of how well the Braves have played his team this season. But the Nationals are playing their best baseball this time around.

“We’re playing good,” Zimmermann said. “We’re playing good team ball. We’re pitching well and driving in some runs. We’re feeling good going into Atlanta. We’ll see what happens.

“We’ve had a rough time with them. So we’re going to have to play some good ball.”

Zimmermann went 6 1/3 innings, but the Mets tied the game in the seventh.

“I thought it went pretty well,” Zimmermann recounted. “Didn’t get too many hard hit balls. The one that Murphy hit was the double, was about the only one. All the other ones were little groundballs that got through, were weak contact that just fell in.

“The seventh inning I had him 0-2 and a little base hit. And then a groundball that found its way through. Drew (Storen) came in and wasn’t able to get out of it. He’s saved me a bunch this year. It’s not like I can be really mad at him for that. He’s been pitching great. He’s going to be there next time out when I need him. Overall I thought it went pretty well. We got the win, so that’s the main thing.”

And Zimmermann was thrilled that Harper was able to crush the game-winner, especially with his recent frustrations at the plate.

“Any time a guy can hit a walk-off like that, he’s been struggling,” Zimmermann said. “We’re all pulling for him. Hopefully he gets out of this little rut he’s in. Hopefully this homer helps and he stays hot going into Atlanta.”

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