This is the Jewish holy week with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) next week. While we do not know CJ Abrams religious beliefs, he seemed to atone for his eighth inning sin of not running out a 66.7 mph grounder back to the pitcher per his postgame comments, and manager Dave Martinez‘s comments.
“That can’t happen,” Abrams said after the game about not running out the eighth inning groundball. “I talked to Davey about it. Won’t happen again, for sure.”
If Abrams ran out the eighth inning grounder, he would have been called safe — and actually was initially called safe on a poor throw by the pitcher to first base. On replay the initial call on the field was overturned on video review, the replay showed the first baseman did touch the bag a split-second before Abrams got there. Two innings later and in his next at-bat in the 10th inning, CJ Abrams hit the walk-off single and so is the circle of atonement to redemption with his first MLB walk-off.
“I can tell you right now he was frustrated [about his baserunning mistake]. He got a little bit of my not-so-good side. It won’t happen again,” Martinez said. “It was good for him, especially after the baserunning [mistake]. He comes back, he puts it aside and he gets after that at-bat, and gets a big base hit for us. It’s good to see that. He stayed in the game — stayed poised.”
Since September 3rd, Abrams has put up some big numbers. His slash for this span is at .321/.329/.429 with a .758 OPS, and he has swiped four bases in those 22-games. Abrams is blessed with natural speed and was given the highest 80-speed ranking by Baseball America before he was drafted as a teenager. He was downgraded to 70-speed which is still in the top 10 percent of baseball. It is why that eighth inning sin of not running out that grounder to the pitcher was such a mistake because Abrams can put pressure on any defender on a routine grounder, due to his elite speed.
Last night, the Nats’ shortstop showed he could win a game for the Nats. It was a two-out RISP hit for the walk-off single. If he strikes out in that 1-2 count, the Braves would get another chance in the 11th inning. Abrams made sure that was not going to happen.
“What I loved is that he was very poised,” Martinez said. “He took his swings and then, all of a sudden, a guy makes a good pitch. And he stayed down, stayed with it, was able to get good wood on it, and put [through] the hole.”
On top of all of this, a game does not go by without Abrams showing off his defensive range and taking a hit away from a batter who would have been safe two months ago with the Nats’ previous shortstop. Clearly, Abrams has tools, and if this current 22-game span is who Abrams really is — then he is going to be a star. That’s a 4-tool player just missing the power tool. But those 4-tools are so strong that if the hit-tool is legit, the Nats have a great one.
The WAR rankings will generally under-value a batter with limited power, but with Abrams speed, his ability to steal should get his singles turned into many two-base dividends with some stolen bases. It is very reminiscent of a young Trea Turner.
A look back at last night, there were a few fundamental issues beyond Abrams not running out the grounder. Just in the eighth inning alone, there were three misplays. Lane Thomas had an issue playing a ball at the wall, Ildemaro Vargas misplayed a rundown in that same inning, and Luis Garcia and Joey Meneses had a ball that got away to collar Carl Edwards Jr. with a blown save in the eighth inning. Three mistakes in one inning led to the tie game — but the Nats never gave up.
A whole bunch of photos to tell the story of a lot of what went wrong and then what went right:
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats) September 29, 2022
For the Nats, they put up a fight unlike the previous two nights when they rolled over for the Braves. Late-inning reliever, Kyle Finnegan, threw two scoreless innings to keep the game tied 2-to-2, and in the bottom of the 10th inning, the ghost runner was moved over to third base by a gutsy 2-strike successful bunt by Victor Robles, and with two-outs Abrams delivered the biggest hit of his young Nats career for the walk-off win.
The Braves’ loss was a deep blow to their chances to win the NL East crown. They fell out of first place by a game to the Mets. The Nats have not done a great job lately of playing spoiler, and they still have four scheduled games remaining against the Phillies and three with the Mets. Both teams are barely hanging on to their current spots in the post-season picture, and the Phillies are a game away from not making the Wild Card as the Brewers could over-take them in the standings.