More than 17 years later, Nats finally return to Texas

On June 19, 2005, the first-place Nationals defeated the Rangers 8-2 thanks to a five-run rally in the top of the eighth highlighted by a bases-loaded double by Brad Wilkerson that scored Junior Spivey, Brian Schneider and Cristian Guzman. Sun-Woo Kim was the starting pitcher that afternoon, with Travis Hughes, Luis Ayala and Gary Majewski following him out of the bullpen. Alfonso Soriano went 3-for-4 in a losing effort as Texas’ starting second baseman.

Tonight, the Nationals return to Arlington (Texas, not Virginia) for the first time since then.

That’s right, would you believe it’s been 17 years since the Nats last played at the Rangers, the only time in club history they have done so?

How long ago was that? Ryan Zimmerman had only been drafted two weeks earlier and wouldn’t make his major league debut until that September, wearing No. 25 because Spivey still had claim to No. 11. It’s the only big league city Zimmerman never played in during his career.

It’s one of the strangest scheduling quirks in club history. The Nationals have made multiple visits to every other city over the last 17 years, and they’ve played at least once in every other city since 2014.

How does that happen? Blame Major League Baseball’s unbalanced schedule, plus the pandemic.

For years, MLB has tried to rotate interleague matchups on a three-year cycle. Each year, the teams from one National League division face the teams from one American League division. But there were caveats.

Teams still had to face their designated geographic rivals in a home-and-home series. And in some cases, those rivals weren’t in the same divisions of their respective leagues. For example, the Rangers and Astros used to be interleague rivals, even though Houston played in the NL Central and Texas played in the AL West. So that screwed up the scheduling to some extent.

The Nationals were supposed to play at Texas in 2020, but then COVID-19 spoiled the entire season. And the eventual 60-game schedule that was played kept all teams within their own geographic part of the country, so all of the Nats’ interleague games came against the AL East instead of the AL West.

All of this will change next season when MLB implements a radical new schedule. Instead of facing only one interleague division each year, teams will now face opponents from all three divisions, increasing the odds of any particular club traveling to, or hosting, Washington.

So we shouldn’t see any more quirks like we’re about to see this weekend. It shouldn’t be another 17 years before the Nationals travel to Texas again.

Lest you think this only applies to Nats road games, we should also point out here the Athletics haven’t come to D.C. since June 7-9, 2005 for a series played at RFK Stadium. That drought will finally end Aug. 30-Sept. 1 when the A’s visit Nationals Park for the first time, the last of MLB’s 29 other franchises to finally come here.

Game 73 lineups: Nats at Rangers
Thursday morning Nats Q&A

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to