Abrams, Meneses help never-say-die Nats walk it off

April 21st, 2024

WASHINGTON -- had a million thoughts going through his head when he approached the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning. But he took everything that he was thinking about -- his rocky start to the season, his frustrations, the pressure of hitting in extra innings in front of alumni from the Nationals' 2019 World Series championship team -- and pushed it to the side, focusing on one thing.

Find a good pitch and put a good swing on it.

On the first pitch of the inning, Meneses did just that, ripping a single to the wall in right-center field to give Washington the 5-4 walk-off win over the Astros on Saturday at Nationals Park. His tenacity is an extension of the team’s belief: they are in the game until they are not.

“It was definitely magic,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said after the game. “I can reiterate that the boys, they don’t quit. They play hard until the last out.”

The Nationals are no strangers to comebacks, having recorded their first comeback win of 2024 against the Reds on March 30. A few days later, they overcame a two-run deficit in a 5-3 win against Pittsburgh on April 3.

“We’re in it, we’re in it until we’re not,” Martinez said. “They believe that. … They believe, ‘Hey, we aren’t out of any game.’ And that is the feeling I want these guys to have every day.”

After falling behind by a run in the first inning, there was plenty of time to get back into the game. took the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first over the right-field fence, and the Nats took the lead in the fourth on Riley Adams’ sac fly.

Neither team was ready to give up.

Trevor Williams kept the Nationals competitive, holding the Astros to one run on three hits in six innings, striking out four to lower his ERA to 2.91.

“For us as a team, collectively, we’ve been playing great baseball,” Williams said. “We executed what we wanted to execute. … We stuck with the game plan.”

Washington was staring down a two-run deficit after Houston scored twice in the seventh off reliever Robert Garcia and added a run in the eighth off Jordan Weems. But the Nationals still weren’t out of it. Abrams delivered once again, crushing a double off the right-field wall to jump-start the game-tying rally, capped by Jesse Winker's two-run single.

The Astros came close to converting a run in the top of the 10th, but Lane Thomas had other ideas. Jose Altuve tried to score from third on Alex Bregman's shallow fly ball to right, but Thomas launched the ball from foul territory on one bounce to Adams at the plate. Adams caught the ball and tagged Altuve out, sending the game to the bottom of the 10th.

“I just tried to make a good throw,” Thomas said. “Coming up more hitting with a guy on second, it might be a little easier to get a run there.”

That brought up Meneses to lead off the bottom of the 10th, and one pitch later, the entire team ran onto the field to celebrate with Meneses in front of the crowd.

It was the designated hitter's third hit of the game, marking his fourth multi-hit game of the season. It was also Meneses' second walk-off hit of his career, with his first coming on Sept. 1, 2022, on a 10th-inning three-run homer against the Athletics.

“It feels good; obviously I was battling and frustrated because I wasn’t having good days,” Meneses said in Spanish. “It’s something that relaxes you a little, and it gives you more confidence.”