Jhonatan Solano’s whirlwind day had almost reached a conclusion, and how much longer it lasted depended on him. For his first big league plate appearance, Manager Davey Johnson had sent him to bat as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning. If he reached base, his debut would continue. If he did not, the game would end.
“You know, it’s a little pressure,” Solano said. “There’s a lot of people in the stadium, all my family here, all together. I breathed like 50 times.”
Solano fouled off two pitches, and then Marlins closer Heath Bell fed him an 0-2 fastball. “He’s always been a clutch hitter,” Nationals director of player development Doug Harris had said earlier in the day. “When you needed a big hit, Jhonny got it done.”
In his first major league at-bat, with his brother in the other dugout and his parents, straight from Colombia, sitting in the stands, Solano got it done. He drilled a line drive to the right field corner, and he sped to second with a double, his first big league hit. As he rounded first base, he thought, “I can’t believe it.” The game went on.
“I say ‘God, I don’t want to be the last out to the game,’ ” Solano said. “He heard my prayer and he give me double. That’s good.”
Solano had matched his brother Donovan, a Marlins infielder, who drilled a hit in his major league debut earlier this month. He planned to encase the ball he hit next to his brother’s, a display for their parents home in Colombia. They had watched from the stands, and then exploded in celebration as Solano raced to second.
Solano would never move past second, jogging back into the Nationals’ dugout after Xavier Nady ended the game with a lineout to right. But Solano had his first hit, his moment, a memory he’ll cherish.
“I’m surprised and excited,” Solano said. “Little nervous, to be honest. The first thing I want to say is thank God for this opportunity. I got a double. I’m happy right now.”
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 6, Louisville 2: Brett Carroll went 2 for 4 with a double. Zach Duke allowed one run in six innings on 10 hits and no walks, striking out three.
Harrisburg was postponed.
Potomac was suspended.
Greensboro 4, Hagerstown 2: Jason Martinson went 1 for 4 with a home run. Taylor Hill allowed three runs in seven innings on seven hits and two walks, striking out four.