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Game 152 // Eighth Inning // The Wild Card Game

With one swing of the bat…

Juan Soto just made an instant classic.





It’s the bottom of the eighth inning at Nats Park and things are looking the kind of nervous-bleak that says to every fan: This again? That going home at home in the playoffs again?

It happened in 2012, 2016, 2017.

And here they are again, at Nats Park. Down 3-1 with only six outs to spare.

This time their most unlikely year by far—from 19-31 in May to fighting back for a spot in this Wild Card game. But again, on the brink of ending their season at home. With another chance at that first deep playoff run hanging by a thread.




And Victor Robles strikes out to lead off the inning.

Josh Hader looking unhittable. Chapman-like. The batting cages pitching machine turned up to 100.

But then he hits Michael Taylor. Sort of.




They review the play, to check which hit first, the knob of the bat or the hand.

The call stands.


And then it’s Ryan Zimmerman up to bat. “Mr. National”. 35 years old. Been with the team since their first season, 2005. 




And he hits a broken-bat bloop single to center field.

The season. Staying alive. Just barely.




And then Rendon works a walk, from a full count. Bases loaded.

Hader’s stuff sharp but control drifting toward wild.


And then it’s Juan Soto. 20 years old. Stepping up for his superstar moment.

Staring out at the mound. Doing his intimidating little dance. And then on the third pitch, he gets a fastball over the plate—and, well, just watch.

One of the two best moments in Nationals history.


If you didn’t see it live:




Grisham blunders in right field. Three runs score.

Nats lead 4-3. And everything about their season just changed. 

Their most ecstatic joy since the Jayson Werth home run, 2012.


Here’s the view from behind the plate, and the rest of the pandemonium:














And after all that, what did the biggest Nats fan on TV have to say?




Nothing. He was asleep.

So wake up, Nats fans.


The “19-31 Season” is no longer a dream.





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