Bryce Harper and Chris Heisey combined to lead the Nats to victory on Sunday with a pair of solo homers spread seven innings apart. Harper's tied the game in the ninth and sent it to extras, while Heisey's ended it on a walkoff bomb in the 16th inning. Long before their heroics, and well before they knew they were going to enter the game, the two had a conversation in the underbelly of Nationals Park that set the stage for all of it.
In the indoor batting cage before the ninth inning, Heisey saw Harper taking batting practice holding the bat with only his left hand, or his top hand. Heisey approached him with some questions and ended up trying it for himself.
"It was just a one-hand drill with the top hand, trying to stay on top of the baseball. Not rocket science," Heisey said. "I just asked him 'how do you do that?' I ended up doing it for a little."
The drill helped Heisey hone in on something manager Dusty Baker was telling him during batting practice that morning, to stay on top of the ball. Heisey explained how the simple tweak helped his swing.
"When you drop your back shoulder, your bat has a tendency to fly out of the zone quicker than it normally would and you also end up being underneath the ball. So, I've been trying to work on hitting low line drives. It keeps me in the zone longer and puts more backspin on the ball," he said.
It's an approach that Harper, not surprisingly, is very good at. And Heisey has taken notice.
"I try to learn as much from him as I can," Heisey said. "Just to try to duplicate what he's doing, putting those swings on the ball on a nightly basis, it's really special. Just to take a little bit of knowledge from him, I'm going to continue to do that as much as I can."
Heisey was able to come up big for the Nationals with a walkoff homer against Michael Tonkin of the Twins in the 16th inning on Sunday. Afterwards he felt the need to give credit where credit was due.
"I credit [Harper]," Heisey said. "He was trying to take some credit for it and I gladly will give it to him."