ST. LOUIS - Michael Morse has been playing baseball for the bulk of his 30 years on this earth. I think it’s fair to say he’s never seen anything like what we saw in the first inning of tonight’s game, when Morse needed to run the bases backwards and then essentially hit a grand slam without a bat in his hands.
“I think anybody (has),” Morse said with a smile. “That was something different.”
If you haven’t seen the clip of Morse’s grand slam, do yourself a favor and check it out now. The Nationals’ left fielder hit a ball that went just over the fence in right field, but the umpires ruled the ball was still in play as it kicked back onto the field.
He was tagged out as he tried to dive back into first base, then was awarded a home run when replay confirmed the ball left the yard, then had to trot backwards from second base back to home because the umps wanted to make sure all four Nationals on base touched the bags in the proper order.
“I wasn’t sure what to do, so I ran back and touched all the bases,” Morse said. “Then I got to first, and they’re like, ‘Go back to the batter’s box.’ I’m like, ‘What do you want me to do?’ ”
Once Morse got back to the plate, he still had no idea of the proper protocol.
“So I look over to the dugout, everybody’s telling me to swing,” Morse continued. “I’m like, ‘No, I’m not going to swing.’ (Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina) was like, ‘Swing.’ I was like, ‘All right!’ So I swung, and it was pretty cool. It felt like spring training or something. It felt like a drill.
“I wasn’t going to do it at all, but it was just such a crazy moment. Might as well have some fun with it.”
It was a wild scene, all right.
It could be a wild scene here at Busch Stadium tomorrow if the Nats win, locking up the division title. They could have done so tonight, but the Braves beat the Mets, drawing out the action another day. The Nats were well aware of the result in Atlanta, thanks to the out-of-town scoreboard plastered above the bullpen in right field.
“We were probably watching that more than the game,” reliever Craig Stammen said with a laugh. “We were rooting for people, we were complaining that nobody’s getting a hit, all kinds of stuff. We were wondering how Mike Minor’s throwing a complete-game and whatever. That’s what we do in the bullpen.”
They would’ve loved to have finished it off tonight, but the Nats admit that it’s a great feeling knowing that after all they’ve been through this season, if they show up tomorrow and pick up just one more win, they’re NL East champs.
“It’s huge,” reliever Drew Storen said. “It’s ours to take tomorrow. We’re going to lace it up and try to get it done.”
“It’s always a good feeling: Win and you’re in,” Stammen said. “We always want it to be left up to us. I think for the last four games, it’s up to us to get a victory. We’re not counting on the Braves to lose at all. And when we celebrate, we want to do it after a victory, anyway.”