Now that we’re into January, we can honestly say - over and over again, if you like - that Nationals pitchers and catchers report to spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla., next month.
Warms you up just thinking about palm trees and line drives, doesn’t it?
To get you in the proper mood for camp, we’ve got a full plate of “Nationals Classics” this week on MASN, including a dazzling array of walk-off victories and the second career start by newly re-signed right-hander Stephen Strasburg.
So enjoy this week’s “Nationals Classics” and we’ll see you this weekend at Nationals Winterfest in D.C.
Thursday, Jan. 9 - 11:30 a.m. - Back in 2012, when Bryce Harper was a rookie, virtually everything the hair-flipping, helmet-losing slugger did as a teenager was a career first. So here’s one of those checklist moments: Harper’s first walk-off hit, which beat the Mets on June 5 of that season. It took 12 innings for the Nationals to prevail, Ian Desmond’s RBI double tying the game after Scott Hairston’s homer in the top of the 12th and Harper’s run-scoring single giving the Nats a 7-6 win.
Monday, Jan. 13 - noon - If you’re still basking in the glow of Winterfest and all the autographs you scored and cool swag you accumulated, this vintage game from Sept. 3, 2005 will keep your baseball mojo going strong. In their inaugural season, this contest against the Phillies went 12 frames before Preston Wilson’s walk-off single plated José Guillen with the game-winner.
Monday, Jan. 13 - 7 p.m. - Savvy Nationals fans know what happened on Father’s Day 2006. That’s the afternoon Mr. Walk-off himself, Ryan Zimmerman, went deep against future Nat Chien-Ming Wang in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 win over the Yankees. FYI, this won’t be the last you read (or see) of Zimmerman this week.
Tuesday, Jan. 14 - 9 a.m. - When the Nats are facing the Orioles in the Battle of the Beltways, any win is extra special. This one from May 23, 2010 was a 4-3 Nats triumph, courtesy of a walk-off blast by Josh Willingham in the bottom of the 10th vanquished the visitors from up the Batimore-Washington Parkway by a 4-3 count.
Tuesday, Jan. 14 - 7 p.m. - We’ve got two “Nationals Classics” today, so how about another walk-off winner? This one comes from July 4, 2006, when - you guessed it - Zimmerman did the honors with a three-run jack off Joe Borowski that gave the Nats a 6-4 victory over the Marlins.
Wednesday, Jan. 15 - 12:30 p.m. - On the heels of his 14-strikeout major league debut, Strasburg made his first career road start at Progressive Field in Cleveland on June 13, 2010. Strasburg wasn’t quite as dominant, allowing a run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings and fanning eight, but the Nationals still prevailed 9-4 over the Indians. Adam Dunn went deep, and Iván Rodríguez, Roger Bernadina and Desmond each drove in a pair.
Wednesday, Jan. 15 - 7 p.m. - Another Zimmerman walk-off home run ends this week’s catalogue of “Nationals Classics,” and this one from Aug. 19, 2011 was absoutely grand. The Phillies took a 4-2 lead to the bottom of the ninth only to watch the Nats score six times for the victory. RBI singles by Jonny Gomes and Desmond knotted the score and Zimmerman’s grand slam ended the game.