Home runs are exciting, but true baseball fans get just as cranked up to see their guy on the mound firing on all cylinders.
If great pitching is your jam, have we got a deal for you.
Regular viewers of “Nationals Classics” are used to looking back at standout performances from star pitchers, but this Monday you can binge-watch three of the best ever back-to-back-to-back.
That’s on top of a full schedule of throwback Nationals games over the coming week.
So dig in, because some of the best hurlers in the game are coming at you.
Thursday, Jan. 17, 9 a.m. - Veteran center fielder Preston Wilson was the hero for the home team on Sept. 3, 2005, driving in José Guillen in the 12th to give the Nationals a 5-4 win over the Phillies at RFK Stadium. Wilson also had an RBI double that night. He had played with the Marlins and Rockies before he was traded to the Nats midseason as he approached free agency. Wilson signed with the Astros the following year and finished his career with the Cardinals in 2007.
Saturday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m. - Jayson Werth struck the decisive blow in a see-saw match against the Marlins on April 9, 2014. Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann just didn’t have it that day, and the home team found itself in a 5-0 hole early. The Nats battled back in the fourth and fifth innings to cut the deficit to one run. They pulled ahead in the sixth, with Ian Desmond’s nubber down the third-base line driving in one run and a error by Marlins reliever Dan Jennings allowing Desmond to score. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s leadoff homer tied the game 6-6 in the seventh. Garrett Jones doubled for the Fish in the eighth, and might have driven in two had Anthony Rendon’s relay from second not nailed Giancarlo Stanton at the plate. Trailing by a run, the Nats rallied in the eighth and had runners at first and second with one out when the Marlins elected to walk Rendon intentionally in the hope that Werth would hit into a double play to end the threat. They would come to regret that decision. Werth put Carlos Mármol’s 0-1 pitch over the wall in left center. Rafael Soriano got the save in a 10-7 Nats win.
Monday, Jan. 21, 9 a.m. - The Nationals opened up shop in 2005, but wouldn’t record their first no-hitter until the last game of their 10th season in Washington. That game opens a triple-header of no-nos on MASN. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann cemented his place in Nationals history on Sept. 28, 2014, striking out 10 Marlins and allowing just one base on balls and no hits. Henderson Álvarez gave up 11 hits but just one run, on a second-inning solo homer from Desmond.
Monday, Jan. 21, 12 p.m. - Say “great Nationals pitching” and the image that pops up is most likely that of Old Blue Eye himself, Max Scherzer. Mad Max’s bulldog tenacity was in full flower on June 20, 2015, when the visiting Pirates endured an exercise in futility. Scherzer held the Bucs hitless over nine, and came within an out of a perfect game, hitting José Tabata as he batted in the pitcher’s spot with two down in the ninth. Rendon and Michael A. Taylor doubled in the Nats’ 6-0 win. Bryce Harper hit a solo homer.
Monday, Jan. 21, 2:30 p.m. - Scherzer had more magic in his bag of tricks in 2015, and dealt a second no-hitter on the next-to-last game of the season, the nightcap of a doubleheader that the visiting Nationals would sweep at Citi Field on Oct. 3, 2015. Scherzer struck out nine straight Mets in the Nats’ 2-0 victory. Dan Uggla’s seventh-inning solo shot put the Nats on the board, and Wilson Ramos hit a sac fly in the eighth for an insurance run.
Monday, Jan. 21, 5:30 p.m. - By anyone’s standards, 2018 turned out to be disappointing season for the Nationals. On paper one of the most powerful lineups in the majors and equipped with a couple of aces in Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Nats got off to a slow start and spent the rest of the season trying to catch the surprising Braves and Phillies. The Nats had a surprise of their own, though. Juan Soto, still just 19, was supposed to be behind Victor Robles in the queue of sensational prospects, but a string of injuries - including Robles’ - accelerated Soto’s development. The youngster rose to the challenge, making a serious run at the National League Rookie of the Year honor that ultimately went to the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. Soto showed his stuff at Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 11, 2018, homering twice off Phillies pitching in the second game of a Tuesday doubleheader. The Nats were up 3-0 in the fifth when the wheels came off for starter Tanner Roark. Trailing 6-3 as they came to bat in the top of the ninth, the visitors touched Phillies reliever Seranthony Domínguez for three. Soto’s 10th-inning homer, his second dinger of the day, put the Nats up 7-6, and that’s how it ended.
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 9 a.m. - The third-place Braves and the fifth-place Nationals could have just mailed it in on Oct. 4, 2009, the last day of the regular season. But the fans at Turner Field got more than their money’s worth that day as the NL East rivals took the season finale to 15 innings before Alberto González’s two-out single brought home the deciding run. The home team fell just short of taking the contest to a 16th inning or even grabbing a walk-off win, putting two runners in scoring position before Logan Kensing fanned Brooks Conrad to put the game in the books.
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m. - Matt Wieters’ eighth-inning grand slam fueled the Nats’ 9-4 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 6, 2017. The Nationals faced a 4-3 deficit but had the bases loaded in the eighth when Carl Edwards hit Rendon with his first pitch to the third baseman. Wieters clobbered Edwards’ first pitch to him for an instant four-run lead. Brian Goodwin took Koji Uehara deep in the ninth to squash what little hope the Cubs had left.