The Nationals for the first time since the franchise moved from Montreal to Washington D.C., and they did so in dramatic fashion with some late heroics and a blunder from a rookie. The Nationals' win probability bottomed out at 11.6 percent after Trea Turner struck out in the bottom of the eighth for the second out of the inning. The Nationals would win, 4-3, thanks to an incredibly crazy eighth. Let's take a look.
Michael Taylor hit by pitch
This was a close one. With a 3-2 count, Taylor was struck by a pitch, but did it hit the bat first?
I think you can say maybe the ball hit the bat 0.0000001 seconds before it hit Taylor, but no human eye is ever gonna pick that up and they generally say there isn't enough evidence to overturn stuff that close. That something this close led to the comeback is very notable, though.
Ryan Zimmerman's broken bat single
More bad luck for the Brewers, because if Zimmerman doesn't break his bat here ...
... the likely outcome is an inning-ending fly out. Instead, the ball was perfectly placed and the Brewers have to just make sure the tying run can't get to second.
Anthony Rendon's plate discipline
Rendon drew a walk to load the bases. During the regular season, Rendon ranked 15th of 135 qualified hitters in strikeout percentage (on the low side). He was 13th in outside-the-zone swing percentage (again, the low side) while ranking in the top half of the league in swinging at pitches in the strike zone. He ranked in the 88th percentile in hard hit percentage. You cannot stress enough how good he is at not swinging at bad pitches while making solid contact on good pitches. Working that walk by taking close misses against Hader set up the play of the game.
Soto the hero, Grisham the goat
Here it is, the play of the night:
Credit goes to Juan Soto for that shot to right off Josh Hader, especially since it's so hard for lefties to pick up Hader at that arm angle. Brewers rookie Trent Grisham committed a mental and physical blunder.
Take note on the slow-mo replay of Grisham's approach on that ball. The play started on his bare-hand side, but he then switches sides so he could scoop up the ball on his glove-side and have a shot at nabbing the tying run at home to maintain the lead. There's a technique in the outfield called "do or die" where you pick up the ball with your glove while running as fast as you can and then crow hop immediately and launch it. You only use it when desperate to throw someone out.
With two outs and runners with a lead going hard on contact, there was no chance to nail pinch-runner Andrew Stevenson. Plus, Rendon would be rounding second base hard and any misplay allows him to score. The play there is to keep the ball in front of you and try to get out of the inning tied.
Instead, the worst possible thing that could've happened did. It also appeared he over-compensated and went too far, though Brewers manager Craig Counsell suggested it took a funky hop.
"Yeah, look, I think that's about playing in these games," he said. "That's part of playing in these games. And it's disappointing, and I'm sure Trent is disappointed. But for all these guys, Trent's why we're here. Trent got us here, big part of getting us here. The inning was an ugly inning. Crazy things happen, as do happen. And they got a big hit, and unfortunately the ball -- Trent was being aggressive and trying to get a throw off, and looked like the ball probably kicked back a little bit on him, because it had some spin on it."
As he said, crazy things happen.
It felt like the Brewers had the game in hand all night from the time Yasmani Grandal made it 2-0 after two Brewers batters. Things all turned in the eighth and the culprits are Hader and Grisham, though there was some bad luck involved with the Zimmerman hit.
Look at the win probability chart.
That's fun and amazing. And we're off with an incredible start to the 2019 MLB postseason. Hopefully it was a sign of things to come.