“Right before I went up to hit there, I looked into the dugout,” new Washington Nationals’ catcher Riley Adams told reporters after hitting a go-ahead, two-run home run 412 feet to left field in Truist Park (at a 41° launch angle).
“I saw Davey [Martinez], and he gave me a look of confidence,” Adams said, “... that he believed in me and he trusted me in that moment, and I was just happy I was able to do something good there.”
Adams, acquired at the trade deadline from the Toronto Blue Jays in return for Brad Hand, hit a 94 MPH first-pitch fastball from Braves’ closer Will Smith for his first homer in the big leagues in his 15th game after debuting back on June 8th with the Jays.
Trailing 2-0, after eight innings, Josh Bell walked to start the top of the ninth, and he scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s pinch hit double in the next at bat, 2-1.
Zimmerman moved to third base on the second out of the inning. Bell told Adams to keep it simple in his at bat as he prepared for his at bat.
“We just scored one run, and JB was running by me and he actually gestured at me just saying, ‘Single is all it takes, we got a runner on third, we just got to get him in.’
“Honestly, I think that helped because I wasn’t trying to do anything special, I wasn’t trying to swing out of my shoes, and I think that’s where I have the most success. I was just going in there, looking for a pitch in that — middle-in a little bit, and thankfully I got a pitch I was looking for and it felt pretty good coming off the bat. Been working a lot on my swing, working on some things to try to work up in the big leagues, and felt pretty good in that moment, and I kind of blacked out a little bit after I hit it, so it was pretty cool.”
“You think if you’re facing a guy for the first time you’ve got the advantage,” Smith said after the blown save in the Braves’ loss, as quoted by The Athletic’s David O’Brien.
“But this guy’s a big league hitter, he’s here for a reason. He put a good swing on a good pitch.”
“That was a no-doubter,” Martinez said. “I jokingly told [coach] Henry [Blanco] two innings before that that Riley Adams was going to have a big hit for us in the ninth inning. That was big.”
“It was awesome,” the manager added. “He was excited. Still is excited in the clubhouse, but good for him. He’s been working, he’s been here, he’s learning out pitchers. One thing I always tell him, I said, ‘Hey, catching is a tough thing because we really want you to learn our pitchers, you got to catch and call games first. For me, hitting with catchers is just a bonus.’ And but he understands that, but for him to come through like that — look, we know he had that kind of power, and for him to come through like that in a big moment, it was huge. So hopefully that lifted him up and he can continue to swing the bat. I thought he swung the bat really well today. He hit a ground ball to second base and stayed on it, his swing has looked a lot better. He had a really great at bat and walked, and that’s something that we talked about as well, hey, taking your walks, swinging at balls in the strike zone, but yet be aggressive, and he got a pitch up where he could handle it and he smoked it.”
Coming up big in his third game and second start with his new team, Adams said, “It’s special. This is my first time being traded to a new team and a new organization, so it’s different, there’s a lot of new faces and new people, and it definitely takes a little bit of adjustment, but it’s cool to have moments like this to help this team and do our part.”