WASHINGTON -- Minutes after his eighth-inning error punctuated the rally that allowed the National League Wild Card Game to slip away from the Brewers late Tuesday night, Trent Grisham sat in what was suddenly the busiest corner of Milwaukee’s clubhouse at Nationals Park. The rookie outfielder was flanked by teammates and team employees, who streamed over in waves of two and three, offering support in several forms.
The hugs, the pats on the back, the words of encouragement, they were all delivered in hushed tones. But the message was consistent, both to Grisham and with what his manager was relaying publicly just down the hall.
“Trent is why we’re here,” Craig Counsell said, after the Brewers' season ended in sudden, heartbreaking 4-3 fashion to the Nationals. “Trent got us here, was a big part of getting us here.”
That Grisham ended up at the center of why Milwaukee is going home, he said, “is going to sting for a long time.”
Grisham charged Juan Soto’s bases-loaded single with intentions to cut the tying run down at home. By the time the ball skipped by him, that run had scored, with the go-ahead run behind it. What began as a game-saving effort ended as one of the more costly October miscues in some time.
“It’s going to sting,” Grisham said. “It was essentially gifting the Nationals a [Division Series] berth. It’s going to hurt and I expect it to hurt when I debrief and go into the offseason.”
To open the fateful eighth, Brewers relief ace Josh Hader struck out two around a controversial hit-by-pitch of Michael A. Taylor, then allowed a bloop by Ryan Zimmerman before walking Anthony Rendon to load the bases. That brought up Soto, who rifled a 1-1 fastball toward Grisham in right. Grisham charged the ball aggressively, looking to throw out pinch-runner Andrew Stevenson trying to score from second as the tying run. Grisham never got the chance. Rendon scored behind Stevenson from first.
A half-inning later, Milwaukee’s season was over.
“I was getting ready to throw to home. I came in a little off balance and it took a bit of a funky hop on me,” Grisham said. “It hurt. It wasn’t ideal. It’s not how you want your first playoff game to go. We expected to win. All kinds of thoughts and emotions are running through my head. It just stings right now.”
Injured star Christian Yelich called Grisham “a huge reason we were playing in this game.” That’s because it was Grisham who essentially replaced Yelich after his season-ending knee injury on Sept. 10. The Brewers won 13 of their first 15 games without Yelich to sprint into the Wild Card Game. Grisham started 15 games down the stretch, hitting .231 with a .738 OPS in 51 contests overall.
Grisham led off Tuesday, playing right field in Yelich’s place. He drew a leadoff walk off Max Scherzer and scored on Yasmani Grandal’s two-run homer to help the Crew jump out to an early lead.
“He has a lot to be proud of,” Yelich said. “He had a great first taste of the big leagues and he’ll be back to contribute to our ballclub. I definitely feel for him. It’s disappointing. When you play baseball in big situations, you’re going to come up short sometimes.”