Every baseball player has that one dream once they have fallen into a deep slumber after working tirelessly on a little league field. That dream? To step into the batter box in a big moment and deliver the game-winning run in the postseason.
Twenty-year-old Juan Soto did just that Tuesday night when he faced Milwaukee Brewers left-handed pitcher Josh Hader in the bottom of the eighth inning, slugging a 1-1 pitch to right-field that blew National Park into a frenzy. As the baseball skidded to the right of right-fielder Trent Grisham a thunderous roar echoed throughout the nation’s capital, the pass ball allowing the game-winning run to score and ultimately giving the Nationals the Wild Card win.
“Just get a base-hit to the middle and tie the game.” Soto told himself during his critical bases loaded at-bat.
The native of Santo Domingo celebrated with his mother, father and brother on the field following the 4-3 victory. “We just prayed before the game,” Soto said while embracing his father, “We just needed help. God’s help.”
A prayer that was answered.
It took a controversial hit-by-pitch to Michael Taylor, a bloop single to shallow center field by Ryan Zimmerman and a walk to Anthony Rendon for Soto to be given the opportunity to come up clutch in the win-or-go-home game.
“The dugout was fired up,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez stated, “The guys were fired up. Michael gets hit. Simultaneously, ten guys screamed ‘here we go.’ That’s all it took.”
The Brewers fired the first shots in the first inning as Yasmani Grandal smashed a two-run home run over the right field wall giving the Brewers an early 2-0 lead.
“They play to the last out.” Martinez said about his team staying focused during the game, “Every day they don’t quit until the 27th out is recorded.”
The Nationals take a diverse lineup, bullpen and pitching rotation that consists of veterans and young talent to face a Dodgers team that yearns to win a championship after failing to win the World Series two years in a row. Game one of the NLDS is set for Thursday, October 3 at 8:37 EST at Dodgers Stadium.
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