#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: Early success against Snakes

February’s here! Yeah, it’s technically still winter, but for baseball fans, Feburary means the start of spring training.

As the Nationals start heading south to the West Palm Beach home they share with their World Series opponents, fans are starting to peek at the schedule for the practice games that will take place all over Florida. Some of them are even making their own travel plans so that they can catch spring training contests in person. But if you can’t make your way to the Sunshine State this year, no worries. Remember, MASN will be broadcasting select spring training games in addition to the entire regular season (details to follow soon, we promise).

Meanwhile, you can enjoy the exploits of Nats teams of the past, from their very first season in D.C. to games from last year’s championship campaign. Stephen Strasburg is front and center, and shows his stuff at the plate as well as on the mound. Two early victories against the Diamondbacks made the menu of this week’s “Nationals Classics,” as did a game from June in which Nats batters hit back-to-back-to-back-to back longballs.

So stay warm, and enjoy these warm-up games until the new ones start up in sunny Florida.

Thursday, Feb. 6 - 7 p.m. - June 4, 2019 started off rough for Strasburg. The White Sox scored four runs on three singles in the top of the first inning, and in the second Yoán Moncada homered to give the visitors a 5-0 lead. But the Nats, as they did often last year, had a comeback in ‘em. Anthony Rendon hit a two-RBI double and a three-run homer, Howie Kendrick a solo home run and an RBI double and Victor Robles a two-run shot before Matt Grace relieved Strasburg to start the sixth. The Nats bullpen held firm, and Strasburg got his 100th career win despite the shaky start.

Friday, Feb. 7 - noon - The Nationals and Phillies pulled an overtime shift mid-week on June 19, 2013, taking 11 innings to determine the victor at Citizens Bank Park. With the Nats trailing by a run in the ninth, phormer Phillie Jayson Werth poked one through the hole at short to score Denard Span. Phils reliever Mike Adams escaped the 10th unscathed, despite Kurt Suzuki’s reaching third via a double and a wild pitch. But Michael Stutes wasn’t so lucky in the 11th. Ryan Zimmerman’s double, and two walks (the first intentional) brought Ian Desmond to the plate with the bases loaded. He sent Stutes’ 2-2 pitch over the wall in left-center. Rafeal Soriano mopped up in the bottom half and the Nats won 6-2.

Sunday, Feb. 9 - 11:30 p.m. - The Nats prevailed in an extra-inning contest on Sept. 4, 2015. The Braves were at Nationals Park and led 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth. Yunel Escobar led off with a double, and rookie Trea Turner pinch-ran for him. Turner took third on Desmond’s sac bunt. Matt den Dekker brought him home on a single. Another substitute struck the decisive blow for the Nats. After Bryce Harper and Zimmerman singled in the 10th, Michael A. Taylor entered as a pinch-hitter for reliever Jonathan Papelbon. Taylor homered, giving Papelbon and the Nats the win.

Monday, Feb. 10 - 9 a.m. - More than 45,000 filed into Robert F. Kennedy Stadium on April 14, 2005 to see the Nationals’ very first home game. The start fell to veteran right-hander Liván Hernández, who pitched 8 1/3 innings for a 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks. Vinny Castilla fell just a single short of the cycle while collecting four RBIs.

Monday, Feb. 10 - 7 p.m. - For most of the game at Petco Park on June 9, 2019, both the Nationals and the Padres struggled to score. That changed in the eighth inning. With the game tied 1-1, Craig Stammen went to the mound to face his former team. A sudden power surge came over the visitors as Kendrick, Turner, Adam Eaton and Rendon hit home runs in succession. The Padres got a run back in the ninth, but fell 5-2.

Tuesday, Feb. 11 - 9 a.m. - On April 17, 2005, the Nats wrapped up the first home series of their inaugural season, and completed a sweep of the Diamondbacks. Nick Johnson’s triple sparked a six-run seventh inning as the Nats notched a 7-3 win. T.J. Tucker, in one of just 13 appearances in his final season in the big leagues, got the victory with just 1/3 of an inning of work.

Wednesday, Feb. 12 - 9 a.m. - The Yankees brought plenty of star power in a rare visit to RFK on June 18, 2006. Their lineup included Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodríguez, but the Yanks didn’t manage to make much noise against Nats hurlers Mike O’Connor and Gary Majewski. The Nats likewise had trouble with Yankees righty Chien-Ming Wang, who pitched a complete game. If skipper Joe Torre had it to do over again, he might well have gone to his bullpen, though. With the Yankees ahead 2-1, Marlon Anderson got a one-out single off Wang. On Wang’s next pitch, Zimmerman blasted a two-run shot to end the game instantly.

Wednesday, Feb. 12 - 7:30 p.m. - On July 18, 2019, Strasburg was good on the hill but great at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a three-run homer and a total of five RBIs as the Nats torched the Braves 13-4. Brian Dozier and Robles each had two RBIs in the slugfest, and Adam Eaton brought Strasburg home on a third-inning triple.

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