WASHINGTON – Wearing a red muscle shirt with a drawing of a gold trumpet — this year’s answer to the “Baby Shark” phenomenon of 2019 — Washington Nationals center fielder Victor Robles sat down for his postgame video conference and announced, “Hi, guys!”
Filled with energy on and off a baseball field, Robles did his part Saturday night to help fill in for missing teammate and friend Juan Soto, who began the season on the COVID-19 injured list.
Robles jump-started Washington’s dormant offense by delivering three hits and four RBIs, including a homer off the foul pole that he celebrated by pantomiming pandemic-appropriate “air high-fives” with teammates, helping the Nationals beat the New York Yankees 9-2 without scratched starter Stephen Strasburg and despite five errors.
“He uplifted us,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said about Robles.
Robles credited utility player Emilio Bonifácio with coming up with the trumpet theme — players motioned with their fingers as if playing a horn after hits — and making shirts with the instrument. Robles likened it to the whole “Baby Shark” vibe last year along the way to a championship when since-departed outfielder Gerardo Parra's child tune became a walk-up song and then an anthem of sorts for the Nationals.
Asdrúbal Cabrera and Michael A. Taylor also homered for Washington, which lost 2019 World Series MVP Strasburg to a nerve issue in his pitching hand two days after Soto tested positive for the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Filling in for Strasburg, Erick Fedde allowed a pair of runs in four innings, including Giancarlo Stanton’s second homer in two games. Fedde was told two days earlier to be prepared to start in case Strasburg couldn’t.
Stanton's drive was projected at 483 feet with an exit velocity of 121.3 mph, and when Fedde was asked about that 3-0 pitch, he chuckled and replied: "He definitely crushed it."