Given all that transpired on Thursday, Bryce Harper wasn't as solemn as he has been following the previous three games. He sported a smile. The Nationals had lived to see another day, staving off elimination against the St. Louis Cardinals thanks to the late-game heroics of Jayson Werth.

But the larger question still loomed after his second straight hitless game: what was wrong with the rookie at the plate?

He finished the season on a tear, but in the playoffs, he has produced only one hit in 18 at-bats. He hasn't even drawn a walk.

"Not really frustrated about it really," Harper said. "I'm just missing pitches. Popping them up. Just missing. Nothing I can do. Hopefully tomorrow I can come out here and get a few knocks and help our team win."

In his final 34 games of the season, Harper hit .341 with a 1.098 OPS. Nothing has changed now, he insists. He is just off on pitches he would normally drive. In his first three games, he saw 69 pitches in 15 at-bats — a good rate of 4.6 pitches per at-bat. But Thursday, Harper was his jumpiest. He saw only nine pitches in three at-bats, popping up twice to infielders and flying out to center field in his final plate appearance. Overall, he is still averaging 4.33 pitches per time up.