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Oct. 7 Zimmerman, Harper and Lind interviews

Bryce Harper discusses his two-run, game-tying home run in the 8th inning and more after the Nationals' 6-3 win over the Cubs in Game 2.
October 7, 2017

Q. Ryan, when did you know that ball was down?RYAN ZIMMERMAN: When it landed in the flower bed, I guess. I know I hit it pretty good, but I hit it really high. Contreras hit one earlier in the game kind of similar, hit it really high and then it

Q. Ryan, when did you know that ball was down?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: When it landed in the flower bed, I guess. I know I hit it pretty good, but I hit it really high. Contreras hit one earlier in the game kind of similar, hit it really high and then it just kept going. The wind died down a little bit towards the end, but the wind was actually blowing out pretty much the entire game. Just happy to put a good swing on a pitch and maybe got a little lucky. Who knows?
Q. At what point do you start getting ready for a pinch-hit at-bat and what was it like, first time in the playoffs?
ADAM LIND: I just tried to keep it like it was a normal game, go down in the 5th -- top of the 5th, when we're the home team; go down bottom of the 5th when we're the visiting team and kept my same routine.
Sounds a little weird, actually, routine is easier now than it was in September. We only have six bench guys as opposed to ten bench guys. You know, we all know our roles and we know how it works down there.
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Q. After the offense struggled for most of the first two games, what can an inning do to change everything going forward in?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, our pitchers have done their part. We let them down the first game, obviously, and then for seven or so innings of this game, we didn't do much to help them, either.
Going into Chicago 0-2 would have been a pretty tough hole to dig ourselves out of. So 1-1 is obviously a lot more manageable. We'll enjoy the day off. You know, some people talk about momentum and things like that. That's a really good team over there. They have kind of been through everything.
So we just need to enjoy the day off and come back, ready to go.
Q. You've had to answer a lot of questions the last couple years against the Cubs about not getting big hits with runners in scoring position. Does this mean anything more, the way that series last year went?

Maybe I'm due; the odds are in my favor, unless I'm just going to keep going 0-for.
They have good pitching, man. They do a good job. Hendricks and Jon did a great job tonight. They just don't make many mistakes over the middle, and when a big league pitcher is doing what he wants to do, it's hard for anyone to get hits. It felt nice to obviously get a big hit. But yeah, to do something against them, since I haven't really done much, ever, against them, I guess.
Q. What does it mean to you at this stage of your career to be in the Postseason, contribute like you did in the Postseason, get this opportunity and the rest?
ADAM LIND: I don't really know how to explain it right now. It's been a heck of a year, from the beginning of spring until this point. I mean, I can't really put into words what it's like right now. Probably won't be able to for a good while.
But you know, I had a talk with Ryan Madson, and just, enjoy it; don't think about the pressure and where you're at and what's going on. Just enjoy it as much as you can.
Q. You've been here for pretty much every moment this franchise has had, and you've been a part of a lot of big wins. In that moment when you're rounding the bases, are you able to appreciate what this means?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I couldn't tell you anything about that run around the bases. I think, obviously, this franchise over the past five years, has changed a lot. We used to lose 90 games every year and now we're expected to win 90 games, and if we're not successful in the Postseason, it's a failed season.
I think we all enjoy that pressure, we want it. It's just been fun to be around and be a part of it. Tonight was a special game. We had some good late at-bats; Harp's homer, obviously. Anthony's walk against Edwards was a huge at-bat. This guy pinch-hit. There's so many more things than the home run.
That's kind of what we've done all year. The depth of our lineup, the guys coming off the bench, and hopefully we can kind of take that with us to the next game.
Q. Did Zobrist's read maybe throw you off a little bit on the fly ball, and did you actually see that ball clear the wall?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: He had it lined up. So I mean, I know he's either going to catch it or it's going to go over. Where he was at, he had so much -- enough time to get under it; I didn't think it was going to hit the wall.
Like I said, the wind had been blowing out all game, and pretty warm here for early October, as well. The ball was carrying a little bit tonight, and like I said, maybe got a little bit lucky.
Q. How was it in the dugout before that eighth inning? Struggling offensively; was it difficult to keep spirits up?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, you do your best to keep your spirits up. You get frustrated, especially when Stephen throws the ball like he did the night before, and Gio threw the ball well tonight. Everyone's doing their job, besides us, scoring runs.
So to say we weren't frustrated -- I don't want to say pressure, but yeah. I mean, the tension builds a little bit, I'll be honest with you. But I think we got some guys that have been here before, and we have got some guys that have played for a long time and you've just got to keep going. There's nothing you can do sitting in the dugout, and pouting is not going to help you the next time you come up. You've just got to keep grinding.
Q. You said you weren't sure that yours would carry out. When did you know that Harper's was out? And what was the reaction like in the dugout at that moment? What was the feeling like?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think, like he just asked, the tension and the frustration builds, and sometimes it takes kind of just one hit for everyone to exhale. Everyone who has played baseball has been there before. Baseball is contagious when you're going well and also when you're going bad. Obviously a huge hit by him to kind of lift that pressure a little bit.
But yeah, that was one of the bigger homers he's ever hit; I'm talking about timing-wise. But good to see him, too. I mean, he's obviously battled to get back. When he hit that base, nobody knew what was going to happen, and kind of worked his butt off to get back to where he's at.
Q. You've been here since Bryce came up, and these are the kind of moments that everybody expected from him. Do you guys expect that from him as a team and how has he reacted to that kind of pressure?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I think all of us expect it from each other. You know, I think from day one, there's an enormous amount of pressure put on him, maybe more than on anyone ever. To kind of watch him handle that and see him grow up and mature, has been fun for me.
You know, I think it's the depth of this lineup and what we can do from top to bottom. I think that's the greatest thing about it. Nobody really feels the pressure for one person to do it every night. We've got each other's backs, and if I don't get a hit, I know the guy behind me has a really good chance to get a hit, too.
Q. Bryce, I think everyone in the park knew that ball was gone as soon as it left the bat. What was the feeling when you saw it going over the fence? Relief? Momentum-swing type hit; it was kind of a big hit in your career, too. What was the thought process behind it after it cleared the fence?
BRYCE HARPER: I mean, you know, they were saying Lind, I think he's been great for us all year long. He can get out of bed and get a knock and to be able to get a knock there against one of the best in baseball was huge.
Tried to get a pitch over the plate and drive it the best I could. Saw a loop in it, and you know, tried to hit it as hard as I could.
Q. Clutch hits are nothing new for you. People say that perhaps you have a clutch gene. When you hear that, what's your response?
BRYCE HARPER: Mr. Walkoff is sitting next to me. I think our whole team here does a great job. I think everyone has a thing where we're all pulling that same rope every single day. You play for 27 outs, and that's what we do. I think the past two games, Hendricks has been great. Lester was great today, as well.
We waited it out the best we could and put some pressure on them early and then got them into the bullpen and put some pressure on them, as well. It was an all-around great game for us.
Q. Bryce, they had shut you guys down pretty good up until that eighth inning. When you have an inning like that, score five, couple home runs, what does that do to the team to maybe relieve a bit of the pressure? Zimm said exhale; is that the feeling?
BRYCE HARPER: I think we all have faith in our ability to play baseball. We're one of the best teams in the League all-around; that's our starting staff, our bullpen, or our lineup. I think we've had the best bench all year long in all of baseball. We've got a lot of faith in our ability and got a lot of faith in our clubhouse and all the guys that we go out there and play against.
So just try to go out there, pull on that same rope every single day, and, you know, strung out some hits there at the end. Doolittle came in and nothing better than to see him pump his fist there at the end.
Q. Can you go through that at-bat, specifically, just walk through what you saw and what you got at 3-1?

First pitch was a curveball in the dirt. Great swing on that pitch. (Laughter).
Next three were heaters up in the zone. And then, you know, I thought to myself, runner on first, didn't think he was going to throw a pitch over the plate, to tell you the truth. I thought he was going to throw a curveball back down in the dirt. I thought about taking the whole way. And then I saw the loop in the curveball and said, why not swing as hard as you can. Got barrel on it and a pretty good moment.
Q. After that home run, what was it like acknowledging the crowd, coming out of the dugout? What was that moment like for you?
BRYCE HARPER: I try to stay as calm as I can throughout the whole game. I think that's what makes our team so good. Nobody knows if we're frustrated or happy or sad or anything like that. I think we are a very even-keeled team.
I think, you know, going into that game today, we just tried to string along some at-bats that were really good, and I thought we did a great job today with that. And then hitting that homer, you know, got it 3-3. And then Zimm came up, two guys on, hit the ball about as high as you could; it's a great launch angle (laughter) and, you know, got out.
Q. Given the first-round history of this franchise in the Postseason, if you had gone down 0-2, going into Chicago, what would that mood have felt like? What would it have been like for you guys knowing you could be one more loss away from another first-round exit?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Not ideal, going to Chicago, 0-2. You know, we've answered questions about that all week, and you know, every year is a new year. Different teams, different players, different people having different years. You know, you can learn a lot from your past, but for me, the past is the past. You know, this team has nothing to do with the teams in the past. Completely different feel, completely different season.
So we just kind of go out each day and try and win that game, and it's been that way throughout the season. Try and win each series, and now we're there. We've got three games; try and win the series.
Q. On the other side of that, how much more confident do you feel heading into Chicago with a win under your belt, and of course Max pitching on Monday?
BRYCE HARPER: I mean, I think the train's coming. We're a great team. We've got Max coming in Game three. I don't know Game 4 or Game 5, but take it one inning at a time, one at-bat at a time and do the things we can to get on base and put pressure on them. You know, Chicago is tough, going in there playing in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
Q. You obviously have had big moments like this before, whether it's Opening Day or Postseason, the pinch hit homer against the Twins last year comes to mind. This one, how does it compare to other large moments you've had?
BRYCE HARPER: I think Zimm's ranks number one right now on my list for all of our homers just because he put his head right there and we won that ballgame. Just try to go out there and put the best swing I can on balls, and you know, do the best I can for my team and my club, and these fans, they deserve that.
I think we go out there and work hard and do the things we can as a team, as a unit, and you know, comes along with our fans and everybody that comes out and supports us.