Willie Harris did it again.
With the bases loaded, two out and the Mets trailing by a run Saturday, Rod Barajas sent a line drive to left field. And Harris, who has a series of highlight-reel catches throughout his career against the Mets, made a sprawling catch to preserve the Washington Nationals’ 4-3 win at Citi Field.
"Once he hit it, my mind was made up to try to make the play,” said Harris, who had moved from third base to left field in the eighth inning. “I was going after it regardless. I wasn't going to take a chance of letting it bounce right in front of me and having a chance to throw David Wright out at the plate (trying to score from second base). I don't roll like that. I go after the ball first. And if I realize I can't catch it, then I go to Plan B.”
Harris’ ninth-inning resume against the Mets includes:
Taking away a homer from Carlos Delgado in the ninth to preserve a 7-6 win for the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium on Aug. 9, 2007.
Making a diving catch on May 15, 2008 at the left-field line on Ryan Church to preserve a 1-0 win for the Nationals, also in Flushing, after Carlos Beltran had led off the ninth with a single.
"It's really nothing with us -- nothing with me or with those guys,” Harris said. “When you have 5,000, 10,000 people out there calling you all kinds of names and saying all types of things which aren't nice, you've got to find some way to make them hush. In my mind, I'm saying: 'You better not hit that ball to me.' That's what I'm thinking. That's what gets me going. That's my own little thing that gets me going when I'm on defense.
“Left field, that's pretty natural for me. That's the most comfortable spot for me defensively. No other position I feel as comfortable as I do there."
Harris was still depriving the Mets of runs this spring in Viera, Fla. Barajas even knew, even though he wasn’t on that Grapefruit League trip.
“One was Henry Blanco. He took a home run away from him,” Barajas said. “Somebody else told me about another play he made. He’s a good defender. That’s not his natural position. He started as an infielder. Every time I’ve played against the Nationals -- whatever team Willie Harris is on -- if he’s in the outfield he always makes a good play. He’s always around the ball. That’s just who is he. He’s a good defender. Anybody else on the team there’s a good chance that ball is falling. They put him in the right spot. Unfortunately for us it worked out for them.”
Barajas had homered twice in Friday’s series opener. He watched Saturday’s shot as Harris corralled it.
“You go from excitement and the game is going to be over right here to a loss. And that’s tough to take,” Barajas said. “Every loss is tough, but when you see victory close, it makes it even harder.”