NEW YORK - Two Nationals hit home runs in tonight’s 5-1 win.
Let’s hear from tonight’s two homer guys, shall we?
On Bryce Harper’s throw to the plate that cut down Ruben Tejada: “When the ball caromed off the tarp, it was kinda rolling towards him a little bit and he was running straight at it. I was just yelling, ‘Keep it down! Keep it down!’ hoping that he didn’t sail it and the runner comes around. It could’ve been bad. But the things that he can do with that arm are pretty special.”
On if he’s surprised players still test Harper’s arm at this point: “Yeah, absolutely, but your instincts tell you what a normal outfielder can do, not someone with a bazooka.”
On if he was looking first-pitch fastball on his fifth-inning homer: “I don’t really discriminate. I look for anything that’s hittable. But, yeah, he gave me a good pitch up in the zone, I was able to put the barrel on it.”
On Gonzalez’s home run sprint: “That was epic. That’s gonna go down in the memory bank for a long, long time.”
On if he likes what he sees from the Nats so far: “It’s been good. Like you said, two games. I like more about how chemistry in the dugout, stuff like that. Seems like a lot of players are focused. I’m more encouraged by what I see inside the dugout than what I do on the field. And obviously what’s on the field is really good, too. So it’s a good sign.”
On if he knew the ball was gone when he hit it: “Not by the way I was running. I was just trying to get a double out of that and I see the ball rolling all the way and I saw the left fielder slowing down and I was like, ‘Wait, what is going on here?’ (Third base coach Bobby Henley’s) telling me, ‘Run it, run it, run it, keep going.’ And then it was nice to have their catcher go ‘Hey, hey - slow down.’ So I was trying to turn it on. Like Drew Storen said, ‘You were going six, then you went four, then you went six.’ I was trying to find the neutral.”
On whether his teammates were teasing him in the dugout afterward: “I was trying to catch my breath while everyone was trying to pile on me. I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t breathe right now!’ Desi slowed me down dying laughing over there. Having some fun with the guys is always pretty cool, but I was just trying to find an oxygen tank to breathe after that. But other than that, we played a great game. I think everyone did a great job swinging the bat. Jose (Lobaton) doing a great job behind the dish like always. Credit to the bullpen. They go out there and shut it down. It was fun to watch.”
On how he felt working with Lobaton: “I’ve thrown plenty of times to Jose in spring training. I think this is our fourth time throwing together. He has a good touch and feel for me already and it’s just fun throwing to him. He has a big strike zone, he knows how to mix it up and he’s getting that confidence to go out there and know how to tone it down if I get too rowdy or if I’m showing too much emotion.”
On how he was able to stay focused after he started getting frustrated with the strike zone: “Like I said, we have such a great group of guys, they know how to control that. They’ve seen it from time to time. It’s only normal. A starting pitcher can lose his cool a little bit once in a while, but it’s knowing how to take a deep breath, step back and get going after that. When you have the entire team going, ‘Let’s go, we need you in this game,’ and even Matt Williams saying, ‘Hey, we need you to finish strong,’ you learn how to put that away and learn how to pitch.”
On if he thought he might have a chance at an inside-the-park homer when he wasn’t sure if it left the yard: “I thought it was. The way I was running I was like I got a chance. I guess. I was about to slide home. I guess when you have everyone laughing as part of the team, it’s just all excitement. Even the bullpen guys were telling me, ‘You were running away like you were running from the cops.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know what that’s about but ... I guess I know what it is now. It’s cool when you have everyone cheering like that and having some fun with it. Even the crowd in Citi Field was just going nuts.”
On who he was looking at behind home plate after his homer: “Well, that was my brother. That was my brother, which was even more impressive. Of all the places, you see him right in front of you. What are you doing here?”