WASHINGTON — Before Game 2, Bryce Harper said of his hitting: “I think it could get better.” Then it did.
With his Washington Nationals trailing 3-1 in the bottom of Saturday’s eighth inning and on the verge of falling into an abyss of a two-game series hole in the National League Division Series, Harper crushed a massive, two-run bomb off Chicago Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. that tied the game. Perhaps more important, the blast — Harper’s first since returning Sept. 25 from a knee injury that forced him to miss six weeks — seemed to open the floodgates for a Nats offense that was about to crumble under the pressure of the postseason.
In the fateful eighth, Washington tallied four hits, which equaled its total over the first 16 innings of the series. After Harper’s homer, Anthony Rendon walked and Daniel Murphy singled, setting the stage for Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a three-run homer that just barely eluded left fielder Ben Zobrist and cleared the wall.
Just like that, all the talk of the Nats’ bats falling asleep — again — in the postseason vanished into thin air with a 6-3 victory that tied up the series, which now heads back to Chicago for Game 3 on Monday. Needless to say, for Harper and the Nats, it got better.