It’s been a long and slow offseason for the Nationals. The lack of any real significant news makes the wait for spring training seem that much longer.
If you’re not keeping track at home, we’re 23 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to West Palm Beach.
But alas, just as the long offseason carries on, so does MASN’s “Nationals Classics” series. The election of Ivan Rodriguez to the Hall of Fame puts the first National in baseball’s honored fraternity, a significant milestone for the young franchise. So we’re throwing it way back to some of the earliest classic Nationals moments throughout this week.
Here’s this week’s “Nationals Classics” schedule on MASN:
Monday, Jan. 23, 9 a.m. - The Nationals started their first season in D.C. with nine straight road games. So baseball didn’t really return to our nation’s capital until April 14, 2005 (this blogger’s 13th birthday). Although I wasn’t lucky enough to attend, this will always be a special memory for me and any Nats fan, as Vinny Castilla’s two-run home run and four RBIs led the Nationals to a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks.
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 9 a.m. - Three days after that historic win in the first home game, the Nationals mounted a huge comeback, capped by a six-run seventh inning, to crush the Diamondbacks 7-3 and sweep the first series of baseball’s return to RFK Stadium.
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 12:30 a.m. - Ryan Zimmerman has always seemed to come up clutch for the Nationals throughout his career. Nearing the All-Star break as a Final Vote nominee, Zimmerman crushed a solo home run, his second of the day, in the bottom of the ninth to walk off the Padres with a 6-5 victory on July 6, 2010.
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 9 a.m. - In the club’s first series against the Yankees, the Nationals were able to win two out of three in D.C. thanks to then-rookie Zimmerman’s walk-off home run in the ninth inning of Sunday’s matinee series finale.
Thursday, Jan. 26, 9 a.m. - Back on July 3, 2005, the Nationals were able to win against future Nats manager Dusty Baker’s Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were able to score twice in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras. Then after the teams exchanged pairs of runs in the 11th, Brian Schneider delivered the eventual game-winning home run in the 12th.
Thursday, Jan. 26, 7 p.m. - Don’t forget the Nationals had some classic moments this past season, too. On July, 23, pinch-hitter Stephen Drew delivered a rare walk-off triple in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 win over the Padres.
Friday, Jan. 27, 12:30 a.m. - In an incredible pitchers’ duel on May 18, 2005 between the Nationals’ Esteban Loaiza and the Brewers’ Chris Capuano, the Nats were able score the game’s only run on Jeffrey Hammonds’ walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
Friday, Jan. 27, 9 a.m. - On June 22, 2005, the Nationals rode Jose Guillen’s two solo shots to rally past the Pirates for a 5-4 win at PNC Park to stay atop the National League East.
Saturday, Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m. - Stephen Strasburg tossed a dominant 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Reds in his return from a disabled list stint on July 3, 2016. The right-hander improved to 11-0 with this 12-1 win at Nats Park.
Sunday, Jan. 28, 6 p.m. - Trailing for much of this game against the Tigers last season, the Nationals were able to pull off an impressive comeback victory in front of a home crowd. Pinch-hitter Clint Robinson crushed the game-winning walk-off homer in the ninth to give the Nationals a 5-4 win and send the fans at Nats Park into a frenzy.