Nationals Use Late Comeback to Eliminate Brewers, Advance to Face Dodgers in NLDS

The Washington Nationals pulled off a stunning comeback in the eighth inning, all with two outs, culminating with a three-RBI triple from Juan Soto.

Photo Courtesy of the Houston Chronicle

Despite trailing by three runs early, the Washington Nationals didn’t give up hope in front of their starved fans. With four outs remaining, the Nationals had one man on base and “Mr. Franchise” Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. He got on board with a broken-bat bloop single, allowing Michael Taylor to advance to third. Anthony Rendon, who was serenaded by MVP chants, drew a walk to load the bases.

The magic continued as Juan Soto smoked a ball to right, which was misplayed by Trent Grisham, allowing three runs to score. The Nationals were nearly left for dead late, kept their adopted motto of “stay in the fight” and took their lone lead of the game.

To cap it all off, the Nats’ comeback came against one of the best closers in the NL with Josh Hader on the mound. Prior to the postseason, Hader had 37 saves through 75 innings and struck out 138. 2019 also led to low moments for Hader, who ended up giving up 15 home runs, the most of his career.

The Washington Nationals have owned one of the worst bullpens for multiple years, a glaring issue within their roster. However, since the Wild Card was a win or go home situation, all hands were on deck. Steven Strasburg took over in the sixth inning, pitching through the seventh, allowing two hits while striking out four. Strasburg has closer experience in his career before making it professionally and was spot on to shut down the Brewers.

The Nationals led by one run, so by no means was it a guarantee with Eric Thames, Lorenzo Cain, and Orlando Arcia due up in the ninth. Washinton turned to Daniel Hudson to earn the save, striking out Thames, allowing a single to Cain, then closing out with Arcia fouling out and Ben Gamel flying out to deep center.

Brewers tee off on Scherzer early

Max Scherzer got the start for the Nationals but didn’t get the results he was hoping for. Mad Max walked the first batter of the game, then allowed a two-run shot from Yasmani Grandal with the first pitch of the at-bat. The Brewers followed that up with another solo home run in the second inning off Thames’ bat to take an early 3-0 lead.

Brandon Woodruff got the start for the Brew Crew, pitching four innings of two-hit ball, allowing one run and struck out three. Brent Suter filled in during the fifth, allowing one hit, and Drew Pomeranz pitched no-hit ball the following two innings and struck out a pair. Everything was going the Brewers way before Hader came in and wound up blowing the save.

Nationals chip away

While it looked like Milwaukee could blow open a big lead early, Scherzer and the defense stiffened to stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, Nats fans got a huge injection of energy after seeing Trea Turner hit a hard line-drive over the wall to put them on the board.

That would be the only scoring until late in the eighth when Soto and company completed their comeback to keep their postseason alive.

Brewers streak ends

Following the news of losing Christian Yelich to a broken kneecap nearly one month ago, it seemed unlikely the Brewers could make the playoffs. They fought against the adversity, bound together, and put together a torrid month of September to secure a Wild Card spot. They continued to use the long ball as their primary offense, but defensive miscues cost them against the Nationals.

Nationals on to LA

The significance of their win, along with how they achieved it, should give the Nationals a boost of momentum when they play the Dodgers in the NLDS. As of now, Patrick Corbin is expected to get the nod for the Nats in Game One, which is slated for October 3. While Nats fans are hoping they can at least split on the road, Nationals Park will be popping for at least two more games this postseason.

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