Rookie Alu notches bevy of MLB firsts in all-around great day

May 13th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- Three days after the debut, the firsts came flooding in.

Rookie recorded his first Major League hit, stolen base, walk and defensive web gem all on Friday night in the Nats’ 3-2 loss to the Mets at Nationals Park.

“Great day,” said manager Dave Martinez. “He played really well, all the way around.”

First hit
Facing right-hander Tylor Megill in his first at-bat of the night in the second inning, Alu swung on a 1-0 fastball and sliced a two-out single into left field.

“I kind of wanted to see a pitch, see what it looks like at the plate,” Alu said. “I got a fastball to hit, and [shortstop Francisco] Lindor was kind of shifted up the middle, kind of gave me a hole over there.”

Alu had gone 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his debut Tuesday in San Francisco. Playing in his new home ballpark for the first time, he quickly changed that.

“There was a little release on the shoulders, for sure,” he said.

First stolen base
After Alu collected his first career hit, his baseball instincts kicked in. With Lane Thomas at the plate in the next at-bat, Alu dashed to second base for his first stolen base.

“I didn’t really think about that one too much,” said Alu. “It kind of just happens during the game. But it was good.”

Alu stole three bases in 21 games for Triple-A Rochester this season before he was called up to the Majors. So how did they compare?

“You just kind of go, and hopefully you’re safe,” Alu said with a laugh. “Not too much difference.”

First web gem
Alu has played the majority of his career in the infield, but his versatility to play left field caught the Nationals’ attention. He has made both of his Major League starts in left, and he showed off his defensive range on Friday.

In the fifth inning, Alu made an outstretched diving catch toward the foul line to rob Jeff McNeil, who entered the game with a .328 career batting average at Nats Park.

“Definitely not thinking about it going by me,” Alu said. “I saw one kind of very similar [ball to left field] two pitches prior to that that I kind of slid and didn’t get to. I kind of shifted over two steps and got the same ball, sort of, and [I] was able to get there for that one.”

Nationals fans erupted in appreciation.

“It was a good feeling, for sure,” Alu said. “Hearing the crowd and everything, I kind of got a little shaken up. But it was good, it was a really cool experience.”

First walk
Alu exhibited plate discipline in a clutch moment. With two outs, a runner on and the Nats trailing by one run in the ninth, Alu worked a five-pitch at-bat against David Robertson to draw his first walk.

“I kind of just took a breath in between pitches, slowed the game down as best as I could,” he said.

Alu saw a slider low for ball one, took a called strike on a cutter on the second pitch and then saw three mislocated cutters in a row.

“I was kind of seeing him pretty well, seeing his cutter,” said Alu. “I was looking for something out off the plate that kind of runs into the plate, and he kept kind of coming inside on me. So I wasn’t going to swing at it.”

Of all of Alu’s Major League achievements on Friday, which one stood out to him the most? He answered without hesitation.

“I think the hit, for sure,” Alu said. “That was really something special for me. Just felt like, kind of, 'You’re in the books.'"