The Nationals eliminated the Phillies from postseason contention and clinched a wild card spot of their own on the same day, but Bryce Harper was not fazed.
It was a tough day for the Phillies and about the best possible day for the Nationals. Game 1 of the doubleheader eliminated the Phillies from postseason contention. Harper went 1-4. The Game 2 win, combined with a Pirates win over the Cubs, sent the Nationals to the postseason for the fifth time since 2012.
"They’re a really good team," Harper said. "They played really well down the stretch. I think, as a club, they’ve done a great job over the last couple months to put themselves in the driver’s seat to get into that wild-card game. So, I mean, just gotta be better. We’ve gotta be better as a team."
Trea Turner, who formerly starred as half of one of the best young duos in baseball alongside Harper, blasted a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning that was ultimately the difference in the game. Harper gave it his best counterpunch, homering off nemesis Hunter Strickland in the next half-inning, but it was all for naught.
"Like you guys said, they’re over there enjoying what they’re enjoying right now, and at the end of the day, that homer doesn’t matter," Harper said. "It’s still a 6-5 ballgame, they still got the W. They are where they are."
This isn't the first time Harper has come back to Washington to play the Nationals since signing with Philadelphia in the offseason. In fact, after Tuesday night, the Phillies have played eight games at Nationals Park this season. He still gets booed every time he comes to the plate. Even still, he said there was no extra sting on being eliminated by his old club in his old park and watching them clinch on the same day.
"I’ve got no hard feelings towards them at all. They’re a great team. They’re a great organization," Harper said. "That’s why they’re where they’re at right now. It’s a great group of guys over there, they play the game the right way. They play hard and they’ve got a pitching staff to go with it and the lineup as well so they’re gonna be tough to beat. They’re a good team and that’s why they are who they are."
Whether he meant it or was being humble is up for debate. But it also doesn't matter. The Nationals are postseason-bound and the Phillies just have five games left in the season.
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