Brian Goodwin always expected he'd get the call. He just didn't expect it to come when it did, late Saturday night, when the Nationals informed the 25-year-old outfielder he was getting promoted to the big leagues for the first time.
"I just kind of blacked out once I heard it," he said. "I was just excited. Everything I ever dreamed of, everything I worked for. Just to get that news, it was unreal."
Ryan Zimmerman's latest trip to the disabled list led to Goodwin's first trip to the majors. Five years and several ups and downs after he was drafted 34th overall in 2011, he earned his first call-up.
Goodwin earned it with a breakthrough season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he hit .284 with 11 homers, 62 RBIs and a .784 OPS in 109 games. That came after a frustrating journey through the Nationals' farm system that included a bottoming-out the last two seasons, when he hit a combined .223 at Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg.
"It's been a good journey," he said. "A lot of ups, a lot of downs. A lot of time to learn and figure some stuff out about myself, as a person and as a player. But I think it was all necessary. Eventually it got me here, so it was good."
The Nationals touted Goodwin as potentially their center fielder of the future when they drafted him with a compensatory pick allotted after they lost Adam Dunn to free agency. Along the way, the North Carolina native was surpassed on the organizational depth chart by Michael A. Taylor.
Taylor's struggles in the big leagues this season, though, may have contributed to Goodwin's promotion now. The Nationals could have called Taylor back up, but elected for Goodwin instead.
"We sent Michael down to play," manager Dusty Baker said. "So if we called him back now, he would be in the same position by not playing, or spot-playing. And Goodie earned it. We believe in guys that are on the roster, but you want to call up guys that have earned it. He's been having a good year."
Update: We are through four innings here at the park, and the Nationals find themselves trailing 2-0. That's because the Giants were able to string together four hits (plus a bases-loaded walk) in the top of the fourth. That actually was the first bases-loaded walk issued by Stephen Strasburg in his career. Strasburg has otherwise been quite good, with eight strikeouts through four inning. His teammates, however, have stranded six men on base so far and gone 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position against Matt Cain. Not what they're looking for.
Update II: We're now through six innings, and things have only gotten worse from the Nats' perspective. They trail 4-0 after Strasburg got lit up in the top of the fifth, ultimately pulled after 88 pitches looking like he was physically exhausted. It's worth noting that he retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced tonight, then hustled his way to a double in the bottom of the third, then retired only five of the last 13 batters he faced. The Nats lineup, meanwhile, produced nothing against Cain for five innings for the second time in a week. And Bryce Harper, who struck out three times, has been removed before the top of the seventh, replaced by Goodwin. Harper appeared to tweak something during his second at-bat of the game, though he stayed in. We'll have to see what that was about.
Update III: Make it 5-0 Giants after they tacked on a run in the seventh off Blake Treinen. San Francisco's bullpen, meanwhile, has churned out two scoreless innings so far in relief of Cain, quashing any hope of a rally.
Update IV: It's over, at last. Final: San Francisco 7, Washington 1. It wasn't especially pretty. Strasburg suffered his second loss of the season. Harper may have departed with an injury. We'll hopefully find out more shortly.