Relive “Nationals Classics”: Walking off into spring training

It’s so close you can almost feel the Florida sun.

Spring training - when Nationals pitchers and catchers report to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach - is nine days away. Meaning, by this time next week, you’ll have baseball activities just a couple of sleeps away.

Until then, MASN rolls out it’s final non-baseball week of “Nationals Classics” to hold you off for these last couple of days of the offseason.

This week is jam-packed with walk-off victories and sprinkled with a couple of grand slams. Enjoy this week of classic Nationals moments, as spring training is right around the corner.

July-4-flag.jpgMonday, Feb. 6, 1 p.m. - To borrow from The Masters, baseball in D.C. on July 4 is a tradition unlike any other. Our national pastime in our nation’s capital on our Independence Day has become a staple throughout sports. And Ryan Zimmerman, Mr. Walk-off himself, hitting walk-off home runs has become a staple in Nationals tradition. The two pastimes came together in 2006, as Zimmerman hit a walk-off three-run home run against the Marlins.

Monday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m. - Adam Dunn had himself quite a day against the Orioles on May, 24, 2009. The first baseman went 2-for-4 with two home runs (one grand slam) and six RBIs in an 8-5 comeback win on a Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 9 a.m. - The Nationals are the defending National League East champions and the class of the division. But that wasn’t always the case. In the club’s first season in D.C., the Phillies finished second in the division and were near the top of the division for years to come. But on Sept. 3, 2005, the Nationals were able to walk off the Phils for a 5-4 win on Preston Wilson’s RBI single in the 12th.

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m. - The Nats were able to walk off the Orioles almost exactly a year after Dunn’s big day in 2009. On May 23, 2010, Josh Willingham sent the Birds back up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway with a walk-off homer in the 10th for a 4-3 victory and series win.

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 9 a.m. - Zimmerman’s clutch hits against the Phillies have continued throughout his career. Mr. Walk-off crushed a three-run home run off Philly closer and future National Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth on July 31, 2010 for a 7-5 win. I told you it’s become tradition.

Thursday, Feb. 9, 9 a.m. - And the tradition continues! We’ve seen two three-run walk-off homers by Zimmerman this week, so why not add a walk-off grand slam? He accomplished that feat on Aug. 19, 2011 to cap a six-run ninth inning and an 8-4 victory. And, of course, it came against the Phillies.

Friday, Feb. 10, 12:30 a.m. - April 1, 2013 was no joke. Bryce Harper started his own tradition of hitting home runs on opening day by crushing not one, but two against the Marlins at Nats Park. On those two longballs and Stephen Strasburg’s 19 consecutive outs, the Nationals rode their two young superstars to a 2-0 win over the Marlins.

Friday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m. - “Those poor Phillies,” said no Nats fan ever. The beating of the Phils continues in this “Nationals Classic” as Wilson Ramos delivered a pinch-hit walk-off RBI single in the 11th for a 4-3 win over the rivals from the City of Brotherly Love on May 4, 2012.

Sunday, Feb. 12, 2 p.m. - The Nationals and Braves were forced to play a day-night doubleheader on Sept. 17, 2013 due to the Washington Navy Yard shooting the day before. On an emotional day in D.C., the Nats were able to rally past a 5-3 deficit and score three runs in the ninth for a 6-5 walk-off victory.

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