Long before a quick, rhythmic pitcher’s duel devolved into the late-game chaos the Nationals are now used to, an early-inning bunt looked like it might have been the game’s most dramatic moment.
With the game still scoreless in the third inning, Asdrubal Cabrera, batting eighth, singled. Jordan Zimmermann bunted a ball straight back to Vidal Nuno and he tossed to second for the easy force out on Cabrera. But with a pitcher chugging toward first, Didi Gregorius saw a chance at a deflating double play. It nearly became entirely demoralizing for the Nationals, as Gregorius’s shin struck a sliding Cabrera squarely in the face as he came across the bag, smashing his nose and lips.
Zimmermann was safe at first, but Cabrera was splayed on the ground for a few minutes and plodded slowly to the dugout with Manager Matt Williams by his side. Somewhat surprisingly, he was back at second when the top of the fourth began a few minutes later. Though he could be seen running his tongue across his teeth as if to ensure Gregorius’s shin hadn’t taken a couple with it, he showed no sign of significant injury.
“Yeah, as soon as he hit me, I just touched my teeth to see if they were still there or not,” Cabrera said with a smile. “But after that, I had a headache for the first two innings after that. But after that, I was fine.”
Cabrera said he didn’t undergo any concussion testing after the incident.
>>> Adam LaRoche was well aware that none of his 235 home runs entering Monday had been walk-offs.
“”You know, you get to a point where you really stop thinking about it,” LaRoche said. “I just felt like I had been snake-bit. It seems like any of my ninth-inning homers have come on the road.”
He admitted that in the past, invigorated by the idea of a walk-off homer, he’d swing himself out of them.
“You try not to try too hard right there and try to go for the home run,” he said. “I think I’m guilty of doing that in the past, just trying a little too hard, pulling off some pitches.”
But while he was surprised by the 3-1 curveball Will Harris tossed him in the bottom of the 11th Monday, LaRoche said he “saw it really well.” He certainly seemed to, smashing a no-doubter into the second level of the right field seats above the bullpen. He’ll see it again on highlight shows all week.
“Nice to get my first one,” he said. “Took me long enough. It’s a good feeling.”
FROM THE POST
N.Y. court grants MASN preliminary injunction against the Nationals, writes James Wagner.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Rochester 6, Syracuse 2: Scott McGregor fired six innings and allowed only three runs. Ryan Mattheus gave up two runs and his ERA is up to 6.42. Sandy Leon hit a two-run shot.