Nationals react: Quotes from the Nationals' rollercoaster night

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There was a lot that happened Monday night. From Bryce Harper’s first major league home run, to Sandy Leon’s ugly collision at home plate with Chase Headley that landed the rookie on the disabled list with a high ankle sprain, to Craig Stammen turning in another superb outing, to the Nationals and reaffirmed closer Henry Rodriguez nearly blowing a three-run lead in the ninth before Sean Burnett came to the rescue. 

Here is some reaction from the clubhouse after a wild, to say the least, night at the park:

On Bryce Harper’s home run and curtain call:

Bryce Harper: “It felt good. I was just going up there and trying to get a knock, just trying to get something I can drive and it went out of the ballpark. We’ve got guys around me that are hitting the ball well. It makes it a little easier when guys are hitting the ball around me.”

“(The curtain call) was pretty cool. I was pretty excited about that. I wasn’t sure if I should’ve went up there, but all the veteran guys were like, go get it, so I did. It was pretty cool… I was running down the stairs high-fiving everyone. Everyone started cheering and whatnot, and I was just standing there waiting like, ‘Should I go? Nah, I better not. Don’t do it.’ Then Werth was like, ‘Go, get up there, kid.’”

“I don’t even know (if this was like I imagined it’d be). I guess I’ve got no words for it. It’s just another home run in the book, I guess. Hopefully it’s one of many.”

“I was just trying to get a hit. I think going into every game, I just try to get something I can hit. I try to get as many knocks as I can on that day. I’m not really that big of a big, big, home run guy. Most of my home runs come from line drives that keep going. Every ball I’ve hit has not been a mammoth home run. It’s always been a line drive that I just hit and went out.

“I was very happy (I hit it to center field). Any spot’s a good spot. But for it to be that way and that side of the field, I put a good swing on the ball. Prince Fielder, this past year gave me something. He said: ‘Us home run guys, we hit home runs but we try to hit them through the wall.’ That’s what I’ve always tried to do.”

“I always (run the bases quickly on home runs) since I could remember. Never show up the pitcher. I never have. I never have wanted to. The only time I would do that is if you mess with my team. That would be the only moment I would do that. You never want to disrespect that guy on the mound. He’s been there and done things. It’s just how I’ve always felt.”

“Just another (ball) up on the mantel, I guess. It’s pretty important, so I’m pretty excited about it. So it’s pretty cool.”

Davey Johnson: “I thought it was great. I don’t think it’s going to calm him down any. I think that’s impossible. But it was good to see him hit the ball hard. I think (the veterans) pushed him out (for the curtain call), which was kind of fun.”

On Henry Rodriguez’s nearly disastrous ninth inning and Sean Burnett’s Houdini act:

Davey Johnson: “I still haven’t lost confidence in Henry, but probably was asking a lot with that was his third day in a row going and he threw a lot of pitches in Cincinnati. So I’ll probably give him off tomorrow regardless. But I still have a lot of confidence in him. I went up to him after the game, I said, ‘Henry, you’re my man. I’ve still got a lot of confidence in you.’”

Sean Burnett: “Obviously (Johnson) has got the confidence to bring you in in that situation but just trying to go in there and throw strikes and make something happen. Fortunately tonight it worked out in my favor.

“For me, my pitch is a sinker. That’s what I was going to throw until I got a ground ball. Good or bad, that was going to be the pitch. Fortunate to get it hit back to me and get it on the ground either way but, executed the double play. If you could draw it up, that’s probably the play. Either 6-4-3 or if you can get it back to you, that’s the easiest way to do it. I was just looking to limit the damage there, to tell you the truth. If I can get two outs I take two outs but just trying to keep the lead. I was telling guys, that’s the toughest throw for a pitcher is the little short throw back to the catcher so I thought in my mind, ‘Do I go underhand? Overhand? Just get rid of it and get one out.’ It worked out all right for us.”

“I was just trying to get loose as quick as possible and trying to save your bullpen guy some runs. That’s the biggest thing. We’re all pulling for each other. Just trying to go in there and limit the damage and help (Rodriguez) out and keep the lead for the team… As the inning starts to unfold you realize that the phone may ring and it might be you. You’re always prepared but you’re never expecting to go in there. I was just trying not to do too much, just trying to get three outs before they score some runs.”

“(Henry has) been so dominant the whole year but to have a couple hiccups, that’s part of the game. Just go out there and try and help your partner and try and save the game for him and for the team. We all try to pick each other up and that’s what we were able to do.”

“A couple weeks ago when I (warmed up) a few times, it was actually good for me. We don’t get to throw bullpens as relievers and I was a little off. My breaking ball was getting loopy so in those little (bullpens) you got to work on some things. I was able to work my breaking ball, fix my sinker a little bit. It kind of helped me out going into this week. I feel good. I’m back to where I felt a few weeks ago.”   

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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