With the game tied at 1-1 in the second of two with the Seattle Mariners on the road in T-Mobile Park, Keibert Ruiz walked to start the top of the ninth, and Washington Nationals’ infielder Ildemaro Vargas stepped up two outs later and hit a two-run home run 385 feet to right off reliever Paul Seward to put the visiting team up 3-1.
Vargas’s 2 for 4 game in the series finale left the 31-year-old , who signed with the club in late May, after he was designated for assignment and released by the Chicago Cubs, 19 for 60 (.317/.354/.450) with two doubles, two home runs, two walks, and eight Ks in 18 games and 65 plate appearances since he was called up on August 3rd.
“[Vargas is] making the most of his opportunity,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after splitting two with the Mariners. “He really is. And he’s a veteran guy, he’s been up here before, he understands the game. He’s played well on both sides of the baseball, and once again, he has a lot of energy, he brings a lot of energy to our team.
“He’s a really good teammate, and today, once again he steps up in a big moment for us and knocks in some runs for us.’
“I’m trying to show them that I can help the team win any way possible,” Vargas told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after Wednesday’s game.
“Do the little things. Play all over the place. I’m going to prepare as much as I can, especially for next year, and show them I’m ready to play. Hopefully, I get the opportunity.”
The success he’s had early in his time with the Nationals, Vargas said, is the result of a lot of hard work.
“I’ve always worked hard to get an opportunity like this one,” he said. “To where I get an opportunity to play every day. I’m very thankful to the team, the organization, for the opportunity I’ve gotten. I’m just trying to take advantage and keep working hard and contribute any way I can.”
Though they got the win on Wednesday, the Nats’ fifth-year skipper said he did want to see the offense as a whole make more of the opportunities they create at the plate, and find ways to create more.
“We’ve got to make some more opportunities and try to drive in runs,” he said. “Especially with less than two outs, you know, guys in scoring position. We’ve got to somehow get those guys in. But I can’t say enough about how hard we’ve played. We’ve been playing hard.
“Today, Vargas picked us up with a big home run there at the end, but they’re playing hard.”
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE OPENER WITH THE REDS:
NOTES: Some pregame roster moves before today’s game. So long, Maikel Franco. Luis García is back! Cade Cavalli is up to start tonight! Sorry, Cory Abbott: