WASHINGTON -- His teammates are rarely surprised anymore because this is the Bryce Harper they are accustomed to. The one who lives to be at the plate in the biggest moments and so frequently seems to deliver. So they were not surprised to see Harper connect with a walk-off three-run
WASHINGTON -- His teammates are rarely surprised anymore because this is the Bryce Harper they are accustomed to. The one who lives to be at the plate in the biggest moments and so frequently seems to deliver. So they were not surprised to see Harper connect with a walk-off three-run home run in the ninth inning Sunday, as the Nationals dugout and the crowd of 29,774 fans at Nationals Park erupted.
It was Harper's second home run of the day and fourth career walk-off home run to deliver the final blow in the Nats' 6-4 come-from-behind victory against the Phillies.
This game-winning home run was extra special for Harper because it came on Easter Sunday. And his knockout blow -- which came off the bat at 109 mph and traveled 424 feet -- came on an afternoon where the Easter Bunny delivered his own knockout blow to Teddy during the fourth inning President's Race.
"It's fun. I think the biggest thing for me is it's Easter Sunday," Harper said. "You always expect to be with your family and I know they're all watching back home and my wife is here as well. It's one of my favorite days to spend time with the family and remember why it is Easter, so big day for the team, big day for the club, but all about the family today."
• Easter Bunny leaps out of the stands to tackle Teddy Roosevelt
Harper has began this 2017 season looking like his old self, the one who won a the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2015. Teams are starting to pitch around him again. His power is back, he has been patient enough to draw walks and has been showing the ability to use the entire field to get on base. Harper is now hitting .333/455/.644 with four home runs.
"It's fun to watch when one of the best players in the game is locked in," catcher Matt Wieters said.
Jayson Werth, Harper's closest friend on the team, had joked with him earlier in the game about how young the 24-year-old was and that in another four or five years he might become a pretty good player -- "I think he proved me wrong once again," Werth said with a smile.
The Nationals had played a sloppy game. After some defensive miscues they were on the verge of dropping a game they had led until the eighth inning, thanks to Harper's two-run homer in the third.
Then, Harper bailed the Nationals out in the ninth, as a player of his caliber can so often do.
"Bryce right on cue," left-hander Giovany Gonzalez said. "That man is the real deal."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.