#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: Nats hurlers mow ‘em down

Hot on the heels of the national observance honoring veterans of the armed services, MASN this week celebrates the arms of some veteran hurlers serving the Nationals.

As are most teams, the Nats this offseason are taking stock of their starting pitching and trying to figure out how they can improve it. That’s entirely right and proper, but the telecasts in this latest batch of “Nationals Classics” offer a reminder that at least three of the guys in the club’s 2018 rotation have at times retired big league hitters at an eye-popping clip.

It’s not all about the arms, though. In one of the games MASN revisits over the next seven days, a power-hitting second baseman came through for the Nats against the team that would this year acquire him for its stretch drive. Another included six longballs by Nats sluggers. And leading off this week’s “Nationals Classics” is a contest in which endurance was key for pitching staff and position players alike.

So grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte (if you’re into that) and settle in for the long haul. And if you’ve got ideas about how the Nats ought to tweak their rotation or bullpen going forward (or about the pros and cons of pumpkin spice latte), have at it in the comments section below.

Thursday, Nov. 15, 9 a.m. - The Nationals recorded a walk-off win over the Twins on April 24, 2016, but fans who stuck around for all 16 innings might have had to crawl off, exhausted not just by the length of the game but by its nip-and-tuck nature. Things looked grim for the home team when the Twins scored three to take a 4-1 lead in the eighth, but the Nats got two of those runs back in the bottom half on a Wilson Ramos double and tied the score in the ninth on Bryce Harper’s leadoff homer. After a long scoring lull, the Twins again grabbed the edge in the 15th, but Danny Espinosa scored in the home half on John Ryan Murphy’s throwing error. Chris Heisey struck the decisive blow in the 16th, sending a 1-1 pitch deep to left-center for a game-ending home run.

Thursday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m. - The Nats and Mets played two at Citi Field on Oct. 3, 2015, but Max Scherzer made short work of the nightcap, striking out 17 - including nine straight - en route to his second no-hitter of the season. Ramos’ sacrifice fly and Dan Uggla’s homer gave the Nats more than enough offense to cinch the doubleheader sweep.

Sunday, Nov. 18, 3:30 p.m. - Tanner Roark struck out 15 over seven innings to beat the Twins on April 23, 2016. Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run single in the first but got thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. That was the end of the Nats’ scoring threat, and the end of the scoring for either side for the rest of the game. Blake Treinen and Oliver PĂ©rez took care of business on the mound for the Nats in the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon got the Twins 1-2-3 in the ninth to notch his seventh save of the young season.

Monday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m. - Stephen Strasburg allowed just two hits over eight frames to beat the Phillies on Sept. 10, 2017 - extending his scoreless streak to 29 innings - as Washington celebrated early its fourth National League East title in six years. RBI doubles from Adrian Sanchez and Victor Robles in the sixth and Trea Turner’s eighth-inning dinger down the line in left accounted for the Nats’ three runs. The Phils rallied in the ninth, but Ryan Madson held on to get the save.

Tuesday, Nov. 20, 7 p.m. - Daniel Murphy took Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks deep twice on Aug. 4, 2017 as the Nats downed the defending world champs 4-2 at Wrigley Field. Sean Doolittle - acquired along with Madson just two and a half weeks prior in the trade that sent Treinen and two prospects to the Athletics - recorded his fifth save for his new club.

Wednesday, Nov. 21, 12:30 p.m. - It was a little early for fireworks, but the Nats Park faithful didn’t mind as the home team pummelled the Reds 12-1 on July 3, 2016. Ramos, Espinosa, Harper, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Drew all homered (Espinosa twice). Meanwhile, on the mound, Strasburg brought his record to 11-0. He walked four but still had given up no hits when he came out of the game with two outs in the seventh.

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