#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: Lots of bonus baseball

It’s been a dreary winter. Not as long as most offseasons, given the fact that the Nationals won the World Series, delaying until Halloween the beginning of the dearth of the national pastime. But months on end without baseball has a way of dragging you down.

But a new season began this week when pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla. In no time, the exhibition games will be replaced by meaningful battles as other teams take aim at the Nats, baseball’s new kingpins.

So as we transition from offseason to preseason, enjoy this week’s “Nationals Classics” on MASN, which run the gamut from the time curly Ws returned to D.C. in 2005 to a playoff-clinching game that send the Nats on their championship quest.

Thursday, Feb. 13 - 9 a.m. - On Independence Day eve in 2005, the Nats and Cubs tangled in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. The game went extra innings until Brian Schneider’s home run off Sergio Mitre in the top of the 12th provided the margin of victory in a 5-4 Nationals win.

Friday, Feb. 14 - 11 a.m. - Schneider also played the hero on June 22, 2005 in a 5-4 triumph at PNC Park over the Pirates. This time, his eighth-inning RBI single scored Ryan Church to snap a 4-4 tie.

Saturday, Feb. 15 - 8:30 p.m. - A Sunday matinee on April 24, 2016 turned into the interleague game that wouldn’t end. As extra innings dragged on, the Twins and Nats traded runs in the 15th, but were still knotted at 5-5. Luckily for the home team, Chris Heisey led off the bottom of the 16th with a solo homer to left for a 6-5 walk-off victory.

Monday, Feb. 17 - noon - As extra-inning games go, the 11-inning affair on Aug. 17, 2014 versus the Pirates wasn’t a particularly long game. Jayson Werth thought he had a getaway day off, but entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, walked and scored the tying run. In the 11th, Werth led off with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Scott Hairston that gave the Nats a walk-off 6-5 win.

Monday, Feb. 17 - 7:30 p.m. - In a game of a more recent vintage, Max Scherzer fanned 11 Marlins in a 9-1 romp in South Florida. Along the way, he became the fourth pitcher in major league history to have seven seasons of 200 or more strikeouts.

Tuesday, Feb. 18 - 12:30 p.m. - No one remembers that on Aug. 7, 2007, the Nationals used a four-run eighth inning to outlast the Giants in an 8-6 victory, with Felipe L√≥pez’s RBI double the tiebreaker. What most fans really remember happened in the bottom of the fifth inning when Barry Bonds tattooed a Mike Bacsik pitch to deep right-center to break the all-time home run record with his 756th career blast, eclipsing Hank Aaron’s total.

Wednesday, Feb. 19 - noon - Werth struck again on April 9, 2014, delivering a grand slam in the eighth inning to spark a 10-7 Nationals win over the Marlins. Tyler Clippard picked up the win in relief.

Wednesday, Feb. 19 - 7 p.m. - In the nightcap of a Sept. 24, 2019 doubleheader versus the Phillies, Trea Turner delivered the biggest blow: a grand slam in the sixth inning that provided a 6-5 Nationals win and helped the home team clinch a wild card berth, the first step in their championship run.

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