We needed a Hollywood ending, and Gerardo Parra delivered the script with a grand slam winner in the 8th inning to take a loss and turn it into a win. Entering the 8th inning, the Nationals win expectancy was calculated at 10% by Fangraphs. So you’re saying there’s a chance! With 2 outs after watching Anthony Rendon strikeout in a 3-2 count, Parra got to face Dylan Floro who he was 2-for-2 against in his career, but this seemed to be a different Floro and a different Parra. This Floro entered the game with a 0.00 ERA, and Parra was batting just .185 at that moment in time. Redemption sometimes comes at the most opportune times. Earlier this week Parra was booted to the curb by the Giants and was unemployed.
The script had the count at 2-2 and like the mythical left-handed Roy Hobbs, this real-life lefty barreled up a fastball that was a mistake pitch — and crushed it 413 feet into the right-center bleachers at Dodger Stadium. Parra’s home run did not destroy a light stanchion sending sparks onto the field like the fictional Hobbs — but he did destroy the hopes of the mostly partisan 53,647 fans in attendance. Their cheers went to shocked silence.
All of this was possible because of a Dodgers error earlier in the inning to make Parra’s at-bat a possibility, and he did not miss the pitch and made them pay for the miscue with four unearned runs and a blown-save on Floro’s record. It was also Parra’s first hit as a Nats player, and the most impactful debut for a Nats first basemen in their history. Parra really is not a first baseman by the numbers, but on this night his manager got creative to put him there to rest Howie Kendrick and the rest was history.
“I got a good swing. I got a home run. I’m happy for that,” Parra said. “We won today. That was a good win.”
When Parra took his home run trot, he looked into his dugout while pumping his right fist as his teammates applauded him and yelled their thanks to him. Max Scherzer looked like he was going to take another “L” in this one, and one swing of the bat turned a 1-8 team record in Scherzer starts to 2-7. This win depended on good starting pitching by Max Scherzer and Max did his part like he had done most of the year but was a recipient of poor run support. Zero runs turned to five runs on this night. Better late than never as they say. Scherzer, who yielded 2-runs over 7.0 innings and 115 pitches was followed by Wander Suero and Sean Doolittle who had to “hold” and “save” this game to finish the improbable and they did. Both relievers had 1-2-3 innings for no drama from the bullpen. In the past, 8th innings had been adventurous. On this night Suero mowed down the Dodgers heart of the order who looked understandably demoralized thanks to Parra.
“He had a great at-bat. They all did that inning,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I like where we’re at. I really do.”
The game started off disastrous in the first inning as the Nationals were on the verge of bases loaded and no outs, but Victor Robles thought a runner was on first base and after Juan Soto walked — Robles started walking towards third base before realizing first base was not occupied and he was tagged out. The Nationals never mounted much of any assault on starter Walker Buehler after that. Once Buehler exited the game, the Nationals went to work on the Dodgers bullpen scoring 5-runs in the 8th inning to shock L.A. with this 5-2 reversal of fortune. Speaking of Soto, he had a 9-pitch at-bat in that 8th inning and knocked in the first run with a single to leftfield. Wilmer Difo‘s leadoff single, Robles walk, and the error by Justin Turner all set the stage for the grand slam.
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats2) May 12, 2019
Parra was playing first base tonight and as we mentioned in the “game article” it was his 21st start at first base in his career, and his placement in the lineup was made possible because manager Dave Martinez liked Parra’s bat against the Dodgers and Buehler who he had an .808 OPS against. With Juan Soto returning from the 10-day IL, there was no room for Parra in the outfield, and credit to the manager for getting creative.
“[Parra] has been killing us for the last six to seven years,” Dodgers’ postgame analyst Jerry Hairston said.
Some did not get the signing of Parra who has spent over 9 seasons of his 11 year career in the NL West, and as we posted on Thursday, Parra has some good numbers against many of the Dodgers’ pitchers. The timing of his signing could not have been better. Parra picked up all of his teammates who failed in their baserunning and at-bats in this game.
They were up 2-0…
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 12, 2019