Luis García went 1 for 4 with a double at the plate in last night’s 2-1 win over the New York Mets, but it was two plays he made on defense in the ninth that were the topic of conversation in the Washington Nationals’ post game Zoom calls with reporters.
Nats’ closer Kyle Finnegan issued the first walk of the game by Nationals’ pitchers to Pete Alonso in the first at bat of the bottom of the ninth, but the reliever got a grounder up the middle from Francisco Lindor in the next at bat, and García dove to reach it, showing off some range, then made a backhand toss, or bounce pass as a reporter called it, to get the ball to Alcides Escobar at second for out No. 1.
“You call it a bounce pass, I thought he was bowling for a strike,” manager Davey Martinez joked after the win.
García handled the next play as well, fielding another grounder up the middle, off Javier Bàez’s bat this time, and stepping on second before throwing to first to complete a game-ending 4-3 DP.
“The first one seemed like it was slow motion,” Finnegan said when asked about the diving and double plays by García that ended the game. “Seemed like it took forever to get there, and couldn’t tell if he was going to get there, made a great play, and then had enough time to bowl a strike to second base to get the out, so that was awesome.”
The closer was fired up after García turned the double play in the next at bat.
“Last time I stepped on that mound it didn’t go so well for me,” Finnegan said, referring to an August 12th game in New York that ended when he gave up a walk-off home run by Alonso. “So I really wanted that one. And you know, I envisioned — that was my plan in my head, try to get [Bàez] on the ground there, use his aggressiveness against him. He’s trying to hit it deep and win the game for his team, so I wanted to get him on the ground, and we were able to turn the double play.
“When it works out exactly as you hope it did, it’s awesome.”
García’s poise on the double play and the slick force out impressed his manager.
“In a spot like that,” Martinez said, of the ball roll to second, “that’s a really great play. I mean, he got down, got the ball, and tried to get rid of it as soon as possible.
“But today, I think we played a good game of baseball today, all the way around, starting with the pitcher, we got just enough runs.
“I know we didn’t score a lot, but we just got enough, but we played good defense, and we had a good day today.”
Will they have another good one tonight?