Washington began its World Series title defense at home against the New York Yankees, with no fans in the stands and in front of an ESPN crowd. The Nationals hoisted a championship flag and pennant ahead of the game and invited Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, to take the ceremonial first place. Fauci, wearing a National World Series Champion face mask, stood in front of the mound, re-meaning the phrase that flattened the curve. He threw a short throw from Sean Doolittle, who was crouching behind the home plate. Fauci’s flawed offer pointed to the upcoming Nationals season.
August 4th: Juan Soto dances in the shelter
A few hours before Washington’s first game, Mike Rizzo, general manager of Nationals, announced that Juan Soto, the team’s 21-year-old star, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Soto, who never showed symptoms, believed he had received a false positive and was allowed to play according to MLB’s protocols after the consecutive negative test results. However, he missed the first eight games in Washington until he was cleared to return from the DC Health Department. Soto wasn’t on the lineup after it was finally activated on Aug. 4, but he showed his excitement at being back by dancing in the home dugout in Nationals Park to celebrate a Josh Harrison-run home.
August 12: Soto almost knocks a ball out of Citi Field
Soto racked up two hits on his 2020 debut and returned in that third game against the Orioles. Two days later, he crashed a 463-foot home run to midfield at Citi Field. It was the longest home run in Soto’s career and further than any Mets player had hit a ball in the stadium since at least 2015. Soto outdid himself a few nights later, sending a first inning pitch from New York’s Robert Gsellman at 466 feet down the hall above the second deck in right field. Soto hit a second home run later in the game.
“When I look up, I just want to see how far it lands,” said Soto afterwards. “It feels good.”
Aug 13: Stephen Strasburg is ejected … while discussing balls and punches from the stands
Strasburg only made two starts before undergoing surgery to relieve carpal tunnel neuritis in his right hand in August, but the reigning World Series MVP still had an unusual season. In a scene that didn’t unfold until 2020 and where cardboard cutouts replaced fans in the crowd, Strasbourg was thrown out by referee Carlos Torres for fighting balls and punches from the stands at Citi Field.
Strasburg, unhappy with a third inning pitch from teammate Austin Voth, referred to as the ball, showed Torres his cap after standing up to leave the seating area.
“He was kicked out as a fan,” said National Manager Dave Martinez after the game. “I love Stephen. I can’t tell you what he said but I love him. “
Aug 17: Soto takes Will Smith deeply and stares at him
What’s a bad blood season between the Nationals and Braves? Soto had upset Smith by getting too close to home plate as the Atlanta Reliever warmed up in the eighth inning. After Soto faced Smith to finish ninth, he paused in the racket’s box to admire its explosion, stared back at Smith, and flipped his racket over. Smith took an exception and shouted swear words at Soto as he began his trot through the bases. Like many of the moments on this list, Soto’s homerun came with a loss, but it was satisfactory at the time.
August 25: Victor Robles shoots a dazzling double game
Robles fought mightily for the record in 2020 and hit a paltry .220 / .289 / .315 with three home runs and 15 RBI. But his glove in midfield was as good as ever. On August 18, Robles jumped in Truist Park to do a home run from Austin Riley of the Braves. A week later, he made an incredible run catch on a line that hit Phillies freshman Alec Bohm over his head, then stopped on the warning trail and released a 288-foot throw to first base to double Jean Segura.
September 3: Trea Turner hits a home run in the park
Turner’s Grand Slam and seven RBI’s in Sunday’s season finale crowned a stellar season that included 12 home runs, 12 stolen bases, 41 RBI, a 0.982 percentage of on-base-plus slugging, and an MLB record of 78 hits. He had a 16-game streak in August to increase his batting average to 0.377. Two days after it ended, Turner started another series with a three-hit game at Citizens Bank Park, including his first home run in the park. He initially seemed to think he’d got enough of the ball for a traditional home run trot before turning on the jets as he neared first base.
September 16: Luis García brings Washington to an extra inning win at Tampa Bay
The Nationals called García in mid-August after putting Starlin Castro on their list of injured with a broken right wrist. The 20-year-old didn’t take time to impress and scored a couple of goals on his big league debut. In his third career game, García made everyone feel a little older by becoming the first player born in the 2000s to do a home run. His next homer came a month later, in the 10th inning of Washington’s 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. There was no doubt.
September 22nd: Yadiel Hernandez leaves the Phillies
Hernandez, 32, who left Cuba in 2015, made his Major League debut in September. In his seventh career game, he dealt a blow to Philadelphia’s playoff hopes and became the oldest player in MLB history to score a walk-off on his first career home run. It was the best moment of the season at Nationals Park.
“I was very happy,” said Hernandez in Spanish through a team interpreter. “In reality, it never occurred to me that I would end the game like this. I always thought that at some point I would do a home run because that’s part of my game. … I just didn’t foresee that it would happen right now. “
September 27th: Soto wins the title
Soto went 1-1 in Washington’s 15-5 win over the Mets on Sunday. He finished his third season averaging .351 in 47 games and became the youngest batting champion in National League history. Soto also led the league on base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695), numbers not seen since Barry Bonds won his seventh MVP award in 2004.
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