WASHINGTON – Asdrúbal Cabrera, in an interview 13 months ago, said he was shocked when the Texas Rangers let him go on Aug. 3, 2019.
“I never thought that would happen,” he said, standing by his locker back in an era when such interviews were possible.
It turned out to be a career-defining move as he was picked up by the Nationals.
Cabrera caught fire down the stretch and had 40 RBI in just 38 games for Washington – and of course helped the Nationals win the World Series.
And after a fast start at the plate in 2020, the native of Venezuela had cooled off considerably before hitting a home run on Sunday against the first-place Atlanta Braves. But the Nationals lost 8-4 and dropped three of four to the Braves in the series.
“I think we match up well” with Braves, manager Dave Martinez of the Nationals said after the game. “Their lineup is tough. You have (Ozzie) Albies hitting ninth - he is an All-Star. I think we can compete with them any day.”
Martinez was reminded that the Braves have won the division the past two years – but the third-year skipper pointed out the Nationals were the last team standing last season with a World Series title.
After going 4-for-5 on Aug. 10 at the Mets, Cabrera was batting .341 in his first 12 games of this season.
His game on Sunday seemed to capture his season to date.
The veteran switch-hitter homered on the first pitch he saw in the second inning to tie the game at 1-1 off Atlanta starter Kyle Wright. It was his first homer since Aug. 17 at Atlanta.
But then in the last of the fifth, after another intentional walk to Juan Soto, Cabrera grounded into a double play to end a rally.
Before Sunday’s game, Cabrera was hitting just .189 in his previous 15 games with 16 strikeouts. In his last 30 games, before Sunday, the infielder was batting only .191.
Cabrera is signed through this season and is one of several pending free agents who may wind up elsewhere in 2021. He is now hitting .234 this season with six homers and 23 RBIs.
The Nationals are now 17-28 and after an off day Monday will begin a two-game series Tuesday at Tampa Bay. Cabrera played with the Rays during the 2015 season and hit 15 homers in 143 games.