San Francisco

‘Baby Shark' Slam Helps Nats Clinch Hosting Wild-Card Game

The Nationals assured themselves of hosting the NL wild-card game by holding on to beat the already-eliminated Cleveland Indians 10-7 Saturday with the help of a grand slam in a nine-run second inning from Gerardo Parra, whose dugout dancing and "Baby Shark" walk-up music have become trademarks of Washington's turnaround.

Nationals Park will be the site of a win-or-go-home game Tuesday night between Washington, which will send three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer to the mound, and either the St. Louis Cardinals or Milwaukee Brewers. One of those clubs will be the NL Central champion; the other will be the league's second wild-card entry.

Asked before Saturday's game about the importance of clinching home-field advantage, Scherzer said: "Would it be nice? Yes. But is it imperative? No. We're ready to play anybody, anywhere."

Sure looks that way at the moment. Washington extended its winning streak to seven games, the longest run this season for a team that was 19-31 before heading in the right direction.

The lone bit of bad news for the Nationals on Saturday was the way starter Patrick Corbin got hit around, giving up six runs in 4 1/3 innings — on three homers.

The Indians, meanwhile, have lost four in a row. An 8-2 defeat at Washington on Friday eliminated them from the playoff race after Cleveland won the previous three AL Central titles.

Playing in place of an ill Victor Robles, Parra drove in four runs Friday — with a homer, a double and a sacrifice fly — and continued his surge Saturday, going 2 for 2 in the second inning alone.

That included his second grand slam with Washington, which signed him in May to a deal worth the $555,000 minimum after the 32-year-old outfielder was designated for assignment by San Francisco.

Parra's most notable contributions to the Nationals, though, would have to be the post-homer dance line anyone who goes deep has to participate in and his choice of a repetitive children's song to precede his at-bats. Nationals fans have taken to vigorously clapping along whenever "Baby Shark" plays, and they certainly were loud Saturday.

Daniel Hudson (3-0), the fifth of six Washington pitchers, struck out two in a perfect eighth.

Cleveland's Adam Plutko (7-5) lasted 1 1/3 innings, his shortest start in the majors, and was charged with eight runs and seven hits. Parra's slam came off reliever Hunter Wood.

Corbin drove in Washington's first run with a bases-loaded single in the second, and Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Asdrúbal Cabrera also tacked on RBI hits as the Nationals built a 9-0 lead.

Corbin gave back a chunk of that in the fourth, allowing a solo shot to Jordan Luplow and a three-run homer to Eric Haase, the first long ball of the catcher's career. In the fifth, Franmil Reyes connected off a slider from Corbin for his 37th homer, a two-run drive that made it 10-6.

Luplow added another drive to left off Sean Doolittle with two outs in the ninth that allowed Cleveland to break the franchise record for homers in a season with 222.


Indians: 3B José Ramírez (sore right hand) sat out a second game in a row and probably won't play in the season finale Sunday, manager Terry Francona said. Ramírez returned to the lineup this week, less than a month after having his broken right hand surgically repaired.

Nationals: On Robles, manager Dave Martinez said: "We've got a lot of guys sick. He came in today not feeling good. If he feels better, I want him to get some at-bats" in the regular-season finale Sunday. ... C Kurt Suzuki "feels absolutely normal," Martinez said, after playing the full game Friday in his first start since Sept. 5; Suzuki missed time because of a bad right elbow.


Indians RHP Mike Clevinger (13-3, 2.39 ERA) can establish a career high for wins on Sunday. He hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts. Washington will pitch RHP Joe Ross (3-4, 5.90).

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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