In the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, Washington Nationals pinch-hitter Chad Tracy propelled the Nationals to victory against the San Diego Padres with a home run in the top of the tenth inning after a Rafael Soriano blown save in the ninth. Tracy’s homer was the first RBI by a pinch-hitter this season for the Nationals in what was already their 42nd game of the 2013 season.
Friday night’s game against the Padres was a game thatappeared to be wrapped up for the Nationals. In the bottom of the ninth, Chris Denorfia reached base for the Padres with one out on what was called a throwing error by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Next, Everth Cabrera would fly out to get the Nationals just one out away from a relatively pain-free win. Denorfia would reach second base on defensive indifference. Chase Headley,arguably the Padres best hitter, was someone the Nationals did not want to face with the game on the line. Headleywould then drive in Denorfia to cut the deficit to one. Yonder Alonso singled next to send Headley to third. Kyle Blanks would follow the lead and single and drive in Headley to tie the game at five. This scoring rally all tookplace with two outs. At this point, it seemed that the Nationals had blown a game against an opponent that they should handle easily, but Chad Tracy, also known as“Captain of the Goon Squad”, had other thoughts.
For many, the thoughts of “here we go again” echoed with the blown save. With a win, the Nationals would have onlybeen a half game behind the Atlanta Braves for first place. Roger Bernadina and Denard Span would quickly groundout and pop out respectively in the top of the tenthas the Padres got closer to have their opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the tenth. What happened next was something the Nationals had been waiting for this whole season. Tracy came up to pinch-hit for the closer Soriano and would send a home run to the right field bleachers that felt as if it reached the stands in about two seconds. The dugout erupted as Tracy picked up both Zimmerman and Soriano in what has become a common theme for the Nationals, picking up teammates. It has become clear that if the Nationals want to succeed, their bench will need to step up in big situations, such as Tracy on Friday night.
Former closer Drew Storen came in for the tenth inning for the save and would allow the tying run to get to third base, but would get a strikeout and a groundout to finally seal the victory at 1:30 a.m. on the east coast. Ultimately, the savior would be Chad Tracy and his clutch homer in the top of the tenth. Tracy was able to provide what the Nationals had been lacking all year, clutch hitting off the bench.