CLEVELAND — At one point during the 2019 season, the Washington Nationals were 19-31 and in the basement of the National League East Division, but none of that matters now, as they are at the top of the baseball world after closing out a Game 7 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston Wednesday night.
And although UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is a die-hard fan of the Cleveland Indians, he was elated to see his good friend, Yan Gomes, who was traded from Cleveland to Washington in the offseason, become a World Series champion.
“You called an amazing game tonight, Yan,” Miocic wrote. “CONGRATS, my man!!!”
Miocic and Gomes became friends through sport. The then-Indians catcher was a fan of mixed martial arts, so much so that he sat cage-side for Miocic’s first successful title defense, a knockout win over Alistair Overeem at then-Quicken Loans Arena in September of 2016.
The friendship continued throughout Gomes’ tenure with the Indians and even after the trade to Washington, as Miocic and his manager, Jim Walter, travelled to Washington, D.C. to take in a World Series game last week.
Although cheering for Gomes at Nationals Park, Miocic wore an Indians jersey at the game.
Gomes was the Nationals’ backstop 11 times this postseason, including Games 6 and 7, where the Nationals’ pitchers combined to strikeout 15 Astros hitters to help seal the come-from-behind victories on back-to-back nights.
Comeback victories became the Nationals’ specialty this postseason, as they faced elimination five times and won all five of those games, all after trailing at some point in the game.
During his 11 postseason appearances with the Nationals this season, including seven starts, Gomes recorded seven hits in 29 at-bats (.241 average), including two doubles, with three runs scored and three runs batted in to go along with two walks and an intentional walk.
Defensively, Gomes registered 70 putouts and five assists against just one error and one passed ball over 74.0 innings of work against the Astros. Gomes finished the postseason with a .987 fielding percentage.
In addition to Gomes, another former Indians player became a World Series champion Wednesday night.
Former Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was a mid-season addition to Washington’s roster and proved to be a key defensive player in the postseason.