WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper enjoys being the guy in the spotlight expected to come through in the biggest moments. He delivered again Saturday night as he launched a walk-off, two-run homer in the ninth inning to catapult the Nationals to a 6-4 victory over the Phillies and send Nationals Park
WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper enjoys being the guy in the spotlight expected to come through in the biggest moments. He delivered again Saturday night as he launched a walk-off, two-run homer in the ninth inning to catapult the Nationals to a 6-4 victory over the Phillies and send Nationals Park into a frenzy.
The victory solidified Washington's ownership of the best record in the National League and extended their lead in the National League East to seven games. It was Harper's second walk-off home run this season against Philadelphia, and already the fifth career walk-off homer for the 24-year old superstar.
"Just trying to be like John Wall, walk them off a little bit," Harper said alluding to Washington Wizards star John Wall, who hit a game-winning three pointer in the closing moments of their NBA playoff Game 6 the night before. More >
"I'm excited. Just to be able to go out there, win another one for our club, it's fun to be able to get that W. Nobody wanted to play extras with a doubleheader ahead of us tomorrow. Huge win tonight."
It was a good day to be Harper. Prior to the game, the Nationals announced they signed Harper to a contract for the 2018 season that would pay him a record-breaking salary for a player who had yet to reach free agency; he will earn $21.65 million with a $1 million incentive if he wins the Most Valuable Player Award, a source told MLB.com.
Harper's homer also extended 32-year-old Robert Mosley's chance at the $5.6 million prize for Beat the Streak after he correctly predicted both Harper and Ryan Zimmerman would get a hit Saturday. Mosley has set a new record at 51 consecutive picks and is now just six successful picks away from the prize. More >
Zimmerman singled in the second inning and doubled in the fifth, but Harper was hitless until he launched the homer and showed off the pop in the pink bats for breast cancer awareness on the eve of Mother's Day. Some of Harper's pink bats had his mother's name, Sheri, engraved on them. Harper's home run traveled 438 feet into center field, as tracked by Statcast™, the longest of his five career walk-off home runs.
"You have to want to be the man in that situation," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "You have to want to be up there. ... He got a good pitch to hit. He didn't try to pull it. He hit it to the biggest part of the ballpark. They say, hey, if a guy can hit it out to center field then tip their hat to him. Everybody got to tip their hat to him tonight."
"It's a lot of fun," Harper said. "To be able to go out there and compete and try to do the things you can to help your team win in an environment like that. Big moments, big spots, big situations, you always want to do that and live for that. I was having fun trying to do that tonight."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.