Harper’s prediction, LaRoche’s speed and an awesome celebration

When Ian Desmond hit his solo home run off Matt Cain in the seventh inning, cutting the Giants’ lead to 5-2, Bryce Harper turned to Adam LaRoche, who was seated next to him on the bench.

“We’re going to win this game,” Harper said. “Just be ready for it.”

If Harper finds himself out of a job anytime soon, he could replace Miss Cleo.

Danny Espinosa immediately followed Desmond’s homer with one of his own, and by the time the seventh inning ended, Cain was out of the game and the Nationals were only down by one.

“We were in trouble (going into the seventh),” LaRoche said. “So when you get back-to-back home runs and knock one of the best starters in the game out to get into that bullpen, I think that was a big boost for the guys.”

When LaRoche stepped to the plate with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth, the game was already tied up thanks to Harper’s RBI single. LaRoche pulled a first-pitch fastball from Santiago Casilla to the right side, a grounder which looked like it could be a double-play ball.

What was Ryan Zimmerman thinking as he watched Ryan Theriot and Brandon Crawford try and record the twin-killing?

“Hopefully Adam’s fast enough. ... Actually, I know he’s not fast enough,” Zimmerman said with a laugh. “Hopefully they mess it up.”

That’s exactly what happened.

adam-laroche-swinging-through-sidebar.jpgCrawford’s throw bounced before it got to first baseman Brandon Belt, Belt couldn’t pick it cleanly and LaRoche crossed the bag safely, giving the Nationals a rather strange walk-off win.

“We put pressure on them from the seventh inning on,” Desmond said. “The crowd was in it. I think that was just destined to happen.”

“Those are the things that have happened to us this year,” Zimmerman said. “We got some opportunities, we’ve caught some breaks, and more importantly, we’ve taken advantage of those breaks. Good teams do that.”

Good teams - winning teams - also find themselves able to put bizarre postgame celebrations into action, even ones which have players impersonating deer and LaRoche, an avid hunter, pretending like he’s shooting away.

Yes, that’s actually how the Nationals celebrated their victory on the field tonight.

“On the flight, we were talking about what we could do for a walkoff homer, walkoff hit, and have everybody have their own individual thing,” LaRoche said. “I think Gio (Gonzalez is) the one who came up with mine. Everybody’s going to run around like deer, and I was going to shoot them with my bow. I’ll give Gio credit for that. I think I got one. I got one before I got tackled.”

Have you ever seen a celebration like that?

“Have you ever seen a guy from Kansas who cares more about hunting than he does about baseball?” Desmond asked.

Nope. And thanks to the comeback efforts of a red-hot ballclub, the Nats earned another hard-fought win, even after they trailed by four against a pitcher who might very well be the National League starter in the All-Star Game.

“We have the talent, and we have the players to capitalize on opportunities that in the past, we might not have been able to,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a good all-around team and a good all-around team win.”

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