It’s getting closer, I promise. Just another couple of weeks and we’ll be talking about real, actual baseball. Yes, spring training is right around the corner, and before you know it, you’ll be spending warm afternoons and evenings at the ballpark, bathed in sunshine and reminding people that the Nationals are World Series champions.
In the meantime, we’ll whet your appetites this week with a handful of “Nationals Classics” on MASN. What’s on the menu? Well, a buffet of baseball fun: no-hitter flirtation, an actual no-no, a streak-continuing comeback, a memorable first and (since you can never get enough of them) another no-hitter.
So enjoy this week’s “Nationals Classics” as you count down to the day pitchers and catchers report in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Thursday, Jan. 30, 12:30 p.m. - The Nationals were thumping the Reds on July 3, 2016, getting a head start on the Independence Day fireworks. Homers by Wilson Ramos, Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa, Stephen Drew and Anthony Rendon led the assault. On the mound, Stephen Strasburg was cruising along and didn’t allow a hit for 6 2/3 innings and 109 pitches, leaving manager Dusty Baker with a dilemma. Baker yanked Strasburg and relievers Blake Treinen, Matt Belisle and Oliver Pérez finished off a 12-1 rout.
Thursday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m. - Strasburg flirted with a no-no, but on June 20, 2015, Max Scherzer turned the trick, though he almost had a perfect game, the unicorn of pitching performances. What prevented perfection? José Tabata’s elbow, that’s what. The Pirates pinch-hitter, stepping to the plate with two down in the top of the ninth, was struck by a Scherzer pitch, ruining the perfect game. No worries, Scherzer got Josh Harrison to fly out to left to end the no-hitter, a 6-0 Nats win.
Friday, Jan. 31, 9 a.m. - Jayson Werth thought he had the day off on Aug, 17, 2014; instead, he came off the bench to help the Nats stretch their winning streak to six games with a 6-5 victory over the Pirates that took 11 innings. Werth walked as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and scored the tying run on an Asdrúbal Cabrera single to force extras. Then, in the 11th, Werth led off with a double, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Scott Hairston’s walk-off sac fly, producing a 6-5 triumph.
Friday, Jan. 31, 8 p.m. - Who doesn’t like a first? This game from April 14, 2005 was the Nationals’ first home game since relocating from Montreal. The 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks made 45,595 fans very happy. Livan Hernández worked into the ninth, picking up the win, and Vinny Castilla went deep for the new home team’s first home run.
Tuesday, Feb. 4, 7 p.m. - The final day of the 2014 campaign pitted the Nats against the Marlins, and Jordan Zimmermann took the mound for the home team. The 1-0 pitchers’ duel that followed was one for the ages, with Zimmermann throwing the first no-hitter in Nationals history and fanning 10 Fish in the process. Christian Yelich’s deep fly ball to left-center looked like it would break up the no-no with two down in the ninth, but Steven Souza Jr. dove and snagged the liner, setting off a wild celebration.