How many times over the past two years have we’ve given up on Carter Kieboom? How many trade packages have we included him in? How many times have we cussed his name, and called him a bust? Well, at least on one day we are calling him a hero, for coming through in the clutch to send the Washington Nationals home winners in their season finale against the New York Mets.
Kieboom’s seeing eye single which found its way to centerfield could have been a double play ball had Andrew Stevenson not been running from first base on the pitch. The play could have ended up a fielder’s choice had Francisco Lindor not gotten a glove on it, and Javy Baez thrown Josh Bell out at home. It was neither.
The knock will go in the books as Kieboom’s first career walk-off hit, and had to come as a relief for a ballplayer who has been embattled for most of his big league career.
Carter Kieboom provided the late inning heroics sending the Nationals to a one-run win over the visiting New York Mets.
Some will look at this and say, “he hit a slow roller off the end of the bat, which a defender couldn’t field.” Others will say, “he got lucky.” I will say, “Kieboom came up big when his team needed him.”
Kieboom found himself in this position on Friday night as well. Winning run on third base, with one out. He struck out. The Nationals lost. One could say the disappointments have been one after another for Kieboom since he debuted in 2019.
A .128 batting average in his initial cup of coffee with the team. A .202 batting average with one extra base hit in 33 games in his first full season (which ended with a left wrist contusion after being hit by a pitch). A failed attempt in spring training to take control of the third base job. A whirlwind of trade rumors and draft bust jokes followed.
Post trade deadline, Kieboom has come on a little. He has shown some of the power he featured early on in the minor leagues. While the defense is shaky at times, he is showing a some life, not seen for a long time prior.
As Kieboom rounded first base he was mobbed by his teammates who seemed to be celebrating a little more than usual. They tugged at Kieboom’s jersey, they blasted him in the face with a jug of sports drink, they showed love to a player who needed some extra affection. Maybe it was because they’ve only won three games in their last thirteen. Maybe it was because they have seen a teammate work hard, yet continue to struggle.
Walking off the Mets, and sending them a game further back of the playoffs is great. Having Carter Kieboom deliver the blow, even better.