The Nats’ Joey Meneses present continues — this time with a walk-off homer


Earlier than Joey Meneses linked with a low slider, and earlier than his drive cleared the wall in proper discipline within the backside of the tenth inning Thursday evening, the Washington Nationals didn’t have a walk-off win this season. That their first got here of their 131st sport, with the calendar already flipped to September, could be ridiculed after this unfamiliar feeling wears off a clubhouse of gamers nonetheless attending to know one another.

Meneses, their 30-year-old rookie and brightest spot since they traded their two greatest gamers a month in the past, crushed a dreadful stat by lifting Norge Ruiz’s 2-2 breaking ball for a three-run homer. And as soon as a 7-5 victory over Oakland was on the scoreboard, the remaining followers chanted Meneses’s first title, filling a largely empty ballpark with little bits of pleasure.

“Obviously when you see someone on TV hit a walk-off, you think about it and think how it would feel,” Meneses stated, talking in Spanish by a crew interpreter. “But in the moment, the adrenaline is very different for you. The feelings are very different. It’s just something very great.”

With 4 extra hits — together with singles within the first, third and seventh — Meneses raised his common to .354 and his on-base-plus-slugging proportion to 1.011. In 28 video games, he has seven homers and 35 hits, essentially the most by any Nationals rookie in that quantity of contests. To arrange his heroics, Keibert Ruiz singled in César Hernández and Lane Thomas walked with two down. The Nationals trailed by a run, that means a single for Meneses might have tied the sport. However after falling behind on borderline pitches, he received all of a slider on the backside of the zone.

Considering it would strike the highest of the fence, he sprinted out of the field. Quickly, although, he noticed it clear and raised a hand within the air. Moments later, he leaped into residence plate, his crew bobbing round him, and was drenched with a cooler of Gatorade throughout an on-field interview that performed by the Nationals Park audio system. For Washington, and for a participant who spent a decade within the minors earlier than his debut on Aug. 2, it was the proper sound in a summer time brief on victories large or small.

“A lot of things ran through my mind,” Meneses stated of rounding the bases. “Very excited that I looked at home and saw my teammates there. I mean, it was just very exciting and emotional.”

Different supporting efforts for Washington (45-86) on Thursday: Reliever Kyle Finnegan blanking the Athletics (49-83) within the ninth; infielder Ildemaro Vargas poking a score-knotting single within the backside of the eighth; Paolo Espino thriving for many of 5 innings, limiting Oakland with a gradual food regimen of looping curves. However as has typically been the case because the commerce deadline, Meneses shined and the remaining unfolded round him.

For essentially the most half, that’s meant including offense to undesirable outcomes. When Meneses was promoted at first of August, he might fill in for the Josh Bell at first or Juan Soto in proper. And when Luke Voit arrived within the commerce that despatched Soto and Bell to the San Diego Padres, Meneses discovered a brief residence within the outfield, hoping to stay past this season.

Meneses didn’t have his personal bats till mid-August. Regardless of, he produced with lumber gathered from Gerardo Parra, Miguel Andújar and others alongside his winding journey, counting Japan, his native Mexico and a bunch of tiny cities as earlier stops. This previous Tuesday, within the sequence opener with the Athletics, he cranked three doubles. Early on within the finale, he saved logging hits however disillusioned himself in different methods. He twice bobbled balls in proper and perhaps gifted an additional base to his opponents. Within the eighth, with an opportunity to bury the A’s earlier than extras, he struck out with two on to kill a rally.

However when it mattered most, Meneses delivered once more.

Wanting past this season, he has 4 weeks to pad a robust case for extra begins and at-bats in 2023. He has shortly became the best match for a rebuilding roster, a fan favourite who hardly strains a stripped-down payroll. But within the meantime, as Washington tries to keep away from its worst end in membership historical past, Meneses has supplied one thing sudden to the membership and a hope-starved metropolis. His at-bats are well worth the watch.

“If I’m a young hitter, I’m watching right now what he’s doing,” stated Supervisor Dave Martinez. “His damage is really staying in the middle of the field and going the other way. He’s crushing the ball like that, especially with two strikes. I’m going to take that into consideration of I’m a young hitter.”

How did the Nationals develop their roster to twenty-eight gamers? They formally added catcher Tres Barrera and reliever Mason Thompson earlier than Thursday’s finale. Barrera, 27, was with the Nationals for many of July and August earlier than Riley Adams rejoined the membership. Thompson, 24 and purchased within the Daniel Hudson commerce ultimately yr’s deadline, has been up and down since recovering from a biceps pressure two months in the past. However whereas Supervisor Dave Martinez defined every resolution — Barrera to have extra flexibility with Adams and Ruiz; Thompson as a result of Washington needs to see him once more earlier than the offseason — there have been restricted choices on the 40-man roster.

On the very least, that was the case with Barrera. The solely different place gamers had been infielder Lucius Fox and left fielder Yasel Antuna, who’s 22 with no expertise above his present task in Class AA Harrisburg. Apart from Thompson, the opposite wholesome pitchers had been Joan Adon, Reed Garrett, Andrés Machado, Francisco Perez, Gerardo Carrillo, Jordan Weems and Tommy Romero, who was lately claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays. Realistically, Carrillo wasn’t thought of as a result of he returned from shoulder points midsummer and is increase his workload in Harrisburg. And because the Nationals needed a reliever, neither had been Adon or Romero.

Which means Thompson edged out Garrett, Machado, Perez and Weems, which is not any shock given how the Nationals view him. They imagine there’s a spot of their future for Thompson’s onerous sinker and slider. Now he has one other shot to show it.

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