That is one of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken. It was so random at the time. The night before, the Padres were celebrating a 13-3 drubbing of the lowly Washington Nationals, and that was a first inning photo the next day of Juan Soto getting to second base. Little did anyone know that 67 days later, the Nats would gain 8.5 games on the Padres in the standings — and now locked in a tie with them in the Wild Card standings, that neither team has much of a chance to earn a berth. But the fact that the Nats would beat the Padres on that day on June 24 as well as June 25 was very satisfying.
The Nats have also gained 8.0 games on the Mets and are now 2.0 games ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The Mets and Padres spend combined over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS on 2023 payroll to compete for a World Series and now both teams will be playing golf with the Nats in October. Heck, the Nats were destined for last place in the NL East so they look like a winner if they can finish in fourth or third place.
Last night it was Jacob Young, Keibert Ruiz, and Carter Kieboom who were the Nats heroes. Two of them are making league minimum money. The Scrappy Nats did it again. They did the little things at the right time once again to eek out another one-run win. When you want to know why the Padres are where they are — look no further than their record in 1-run games because they are just 6-21. Pathetic. The Nats, on the other hand, are 22-19.
Some might say it was baseball karma for Soto and his team. Did he wake up the sleeping giant that laid dormant in the Nats? The Nats went on to win the Saturday and Sunday games of that series to win the series.
After the June 23 loss by the Nats, the team DFA’d Chad Kuhl after his meltdown on the mound. I was sitting in front of Mike Rizzo. Some of you might remember that I took a photo of Rizzo on his phone, and that is when he called for Paolo Espino to come to San Diego that resulted in the DFA of Kuhl. He was not a happy man that night. The Nats had fallen to a season low at that point of 19 games under .500.
But that photo of CJ Abrams and Soto were kind of the juxtaposition of that trade that no intelligent Nats fan would reverse (today) that netted the Nats, not only Abrams, but also LHP MacKenzie Gore who won last night’s game, and also top prospects OF James Wood and Robert Hassell III, and RHP Jarlin Susana.
Rizzo was not happy that night on June 23 — but since that point the Nats have improved a full 10-games in the standings. Not too shabby. Everything really depends on what the team does going forward. Would you rather be the Nats, Padres or Mets now?