The Nationals won their 6th game of the season in walk-off style tonight and did it in front of a sell-out crowd of over 41,000. This game was zero to zero until the bottom of the eighth inning when Michael Taylor hit a two-run home run against Jerry Blevins to put the Nats up by a score of 2-0. In the top of the ninth inning with two outs and two strikes Curtis Granderson tied the game with a two-run homer. In the bottom of the ninth inning Ryan Raburn came up to bat and hit a bloop single for a walk-off winner.
Just another heart thumping game with great starting pitching and a lousy bullpen but this time it was the other team’s bullpen that fell apart even worse in the end!
Stephen Strasburg threw seven shutout innings but got zero runs of support and left the game with no decision.
The 8th inning bullpen of Matt Grace and Joe Blanton got the job done for the Nationals with the help of a spectacular play by Brian Goodwin cutting down Brandon Nimmo at the plate to keep the score at 0-0, but the combination of Sammy Solis and Matt Albers gave up the two runs in the top of the 9th and it could have been worse if Solis wasn’t given a borderline strikeout of Lucas Duda on a 3-2 pitch.
In the bottom of the ninth inning it started with a Matt Wieters walk, a failed bunt by Wilmer Difo which ended in a strikeout, a Stephen Drew pinch-hit walk, an Adam Lind long Fly ball that allowed Matt Wieters to tag up from second and scamper to third base which allowed Wieters to score on the bloop single to left field by Ryan Raburn.
Cespedes felt cramps in his hamstring. pic.twitter.com/qtONZyeQm9
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) July 4, 2017
By the way, when is the last time you can remember the Nats winning a game on a jam shot bloop “BABIP” doink cheapie hit for a walk-off? Make contact and good things can happen.
Some deja vu? 2012 against the Mets with a diving no-catch single hit by a Nats leftfielder in a first-ever walk-off for the Nats:
“You try to get a good pitch — put a swing on it and hopefully it goes our way,” Ryan Raburn said. “Tonight it was, and it was a good win. I was hollering at [the ball to drop]. In my mind I was yelling at that thing. Fortunately, it was able to come down and give us a win.”
Ryan Raburn was not even part of the Nationals roster until May 26th when he was acquired as a minor league player for extra depth after Chris Heisey injured his arm. It was less than a month ago when Raburn got his call-up on June 6th to debut with the Nationals. Raburn’s Major League career looked to be nearing its end as he last played in 2016, when he only hit .220 in 113 games for the Rockies where players go to pad their stats. Raburn signed a minor league deal with the Reds after Spring Training began this year and was released before Spring Training ended then he signed on April 8th as Triple-A depth with the White Sox before he was traded from Triple-A Charlotte of the White Sox organization for cash considerations or a player to be named later where he was hitting .274.
Opportunities have an odd way of working out. Max Scherzer was a teammate of Raburn’s back in Detroit and remembers some memorable Raburn hits. Edwin Jackson was a Raburn teammate back on June 23, 2009 when Jackson started that game with Curtis Granderson as his centerfielder. Raburn entered the game as a pinch-hitter with his Tigers behind by a run in the 9th inning as he faced closer Kevin Gregg with a man-on-base. Raburn hit his first career walk-off on that day scoring Don Kelly who walked to start the 9th inning. Granderson on this day probably had a flashback to that day in 2009. Eight years later Raburn enters this game off the bench again and factors in as the walk-off hero.
On July 26, 2013, Raburn hit the second walk-off home run of his career and that time Asdrubal Cabrera was on-base when Raburn hit it. Asdrubal probably had a flashback to that day. Raburn has been a survivor in a game that always begs the question, “What have you done for me lately”? New York Mets’ manager Terry Collins knows that answer all too well as he had to answer to many managerial decisions that did not work-out.
Collins thought he out-smarted Baker when he had Curtis Granderson pinch-hit. The rumor circulating was that Granderson was not available because of a sore hip. Anyone who knows Collins knows that you can’t trust any pre-game injury report. Collins has pulled off that sleight of hand before like a carnival barker. Don’t believe a word he says.
Mets manager Terry Collins pulled his lefty pitcher Josh Edgin for the right-handed Fernando Salas just for Raburn. Terry Collins made 4 pitching changes to get 5 outs, and the last out in the 9th is always the toughest as Dusty Baker can attest to.
In a season like this it takes a cast of characters and the 36-year-old Raburn got a starring role on this night.