Davey Martinez’s club was down to its last strike in the ninth, trailing Philadelphia’s Phillies, 6-5, when rookie outfielder Victor Robles sent a 2-2 slider from Edubray Ramos out to left-center in Citizens Bank Park for a game-tying home run that made it 6-6.
Robles’s blast capped off an improbable comeback from a 6-1 deficit in the second game of three in CBP.
An inning later, after Sean Doolittle struck Bryce Harper out with a runner on in the bottom of the ninth, and stranded two runners to keep it tied and send it to extras, Juan Soto came up with two on and no one out and hit a 1-0 slider from lefty Jose Alvarez some 432 feet to right field, high over the foul pole, for a three-run blast that made it 9-6 Nationals before an RBI double by Robles added to the lead.
Anyone know how there are 3 @MLB prospects better than Victor Robles?— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 10, 2019
Still tryna figure it out... pic.twitter.com/XCKyvdkJio
Martinez talked, after what ended up a 10-6 win, about the contributions from Robles and Soto.
“It was exciting,” the manager said of Robles’s ninth inning at bat. “He has two strikes and he got a ball up where he could handle it, and he crushed it. What more can you say about Victor? Then he comes up again and hits a double off the right field wall. He’s playing really well. All the guys are playing well, and I’m proud of them, really proud of them today.”
And the Soto homer, which had to be reviewed to make sure it stayed fair since it flew so high over the pole, and hooked to the right dramatically?
Juan Soto with light-tower power. pic.twitter.com/LQmhnHaWqP— MLB (@MLB) April 10, 2019
“The ball hooked like crazy,” Martinez said, “but when it passed the foul pole it was fair, but after that I couldn’t believe how much it hooked, I really [couldn’t]. I think that’s the hardest ball I’ve ever seen hit.”
It came off the bat at 112.7 MPH, which, according to MLB.com’s Andrew Simon, is actually the second-highest exit velo recorded by a Nationals’ hitter since Statcast started tracking exit velocity in 2015. [ed. note - [whispers]: “Bryce Harper has the hardest-hit ball.”]
Soto said he was just looking to make good contact when he stepped in with two on and no one out.
“Just make good contact, just step in there, get a base hit, and help my team, because they can have a man on second and a base hit, maybe he can score, just looking for one pitch, right in the middle,” the 20-year-old outfielder told MASN’s Alex Chappell.
“I felt very proud of myself in that moment,” Robles said via interpreter Octavio Martinez, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I actually kept telling myself to get on base, then I ended up hitting the home run. It was just a big relief. It was one of those feelings you can’t describe, and I thank God for that, that opportunity and that outcome. That was just a great feeling.”
Soto also praised Robles, his 21-year-old teammate.
“He’s amazing, an amazing player, he’s showing off everything, he looks ready to be here for a long time,” Soto said.
Before Robles and Soto’s heroics, the Nats got a sac fly and RBI double by Anthony Rendon, a two-run home run by Yan Gomes, a pinch hit homer by Howie Kendrick, and six innings of relief work from their bullpen as they battled their way back into the game after the Phillies jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the fourth.
“The boys, they battled their butts off, and I’m so super-proud of them,” Martinez said, with an additional nod to the work his beleaguered bullpen did.
“The bullpen was outstanding. And if they keep that going, we’re going to win a lot of ballgames, but what that bullpen did today, that’s why we won.”