Standing in the on-deck circle in the ninth inning Thursday night, Bryce Harper was visualizing the need to bunt Jayson Werth over if the leadoff man reached base against Lance Lynn.
Of course, that never came to pass as Werth drove himself in with a walk-off homer, with a thrilled Harper among the mob greeting the veteran outfielder at the plate.
But the questions remained for Harper following Game 4, as they had all series — what was wrong with the rookie at the plate? Sitting at 1-for-18 with six strikeouts in the NLDS through four games, Harper offered up an honest assessment.
“I’m not really frustrated about it, really,” he said. “I’m just missing pitches. Just popping them up, just missing them. I feel good up there. There’s nothing I can do. Hopefully tomorrow I can come out there, get a few knocks, help our team win. That’s the hardest thing — coming out there and everybody’s swinging it and I’m not.”
As you might have noticed, Harper has indeed chipped in in Game 5. With an RBI triple in his first at-bat and a homer off Adam Wainwright to lead off the third inning, he has doubled his series hit total at a time when the Nationals needed him the most.
That triple was the first by a teenager in the postseason, and Harper is the second teen to homer in the playoffs after Andruw Jones of the 1996 Braves, according to STATS LLC.
Not a bad lead-up to his 20th birthday, which comes Tuesday. And could include a flight to San Francisco for Game 3 of the NLCS.