#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: Dr. Longball makes house calls

Having seen the Nationals come up with clutch hits time and again througout their remarkable playoff run of 2019, are fans now jaded and blasé about them?

Naaaaah!

Watching Nats hitters past and present snatching victory away from stunned opponents never gets old. With that in mind, MASN this week brings you a couple of blasts from the past that offered a glimpse of things to come. You’ll witness a National League East dogfight with the Fish (a fishfight?), and a bend-but-don’t-break pitching performance from a crafty southpaw who is currently on the free agent market.

Thursday, Dec. 5 - 12 p.m. - Some teams might have just mailed it in after falling behind 5-0 early. But the Nats have long had more than their share of big bats, and they came in handy on April 9, 2014. Jordan Zimmermann, who started against the Marlins at Nationals Park that night, had had better outings. He gave up a run before recording an out, and that first out (a sac fly from Garrett Jones) produced a second run in the first inning. An RBI single from Christian Yelich and a two-run homer from Derek Dietrich put the Nats in a deep hole in the second inning, but Bryce Harper hit a three-run shot in the fourth to boost their climb out of it. The two NL East rivals continued to trade punches, and the Fish held a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. That’s when Jayson Werth struck the deciding blow, a grand slam to left-center off Carlos Mármol.

Friday, Dec. 6 - 12 p.m. - The Nats and the visiting Cardinals had 21 hits between them on April 21, 2015, but you couldn’t tell by the score. Lefty Gio Gonzalez pitched six scoreless innings despite allowing eight hits, and he appeared to be cruising to victory. Harper plated Ian Desmond for the game’s first run in the third inning, but Cards starter Lance Lynn kept a lid on things for the rest of his time on the hill. The Nats held that 1-0 lead into the ninth, but Drew Storen squandered the save opportunity, giving up a tying run on two hits and a wild pitch. Aaron Barrett allowed a leadoff single in the top of the 10th, but retired the next three batters. In the home half, Carlos Villanueva struck out Harper and got Ryan Zimmerman on a lineout to center. One out away from getting into the dugout, though, Villanueva watched his first pitch to Yunel Escobar sail over the wall in left-center. It was the first game-winning homer in four years for Escobar, coming in his only season with the Nationals.

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