We’re just six days away from April 1, and the ballfields are empty. No fooling. We only wish it was a joke.
Today, the Nationals were supposed to be in New York to open the season against the Mets. A week from today, following a swing through Miami, the Nats were supposed to host the Mets for their home opener.
None of those things are happening. You know why, so we’re not going to use the C word. We’re all sick of hearing it, if you’ll pardon the expression.
But you can count on MASN to bring you exciting baseball all year long, even during this extended winter of discontent. True, there’s nothing happening on the diamond at present, but we’ve got the next best thing: plenty of Nationals triumphs from seasons past, with players you might have forgotten making plays you might have missed.
So gather some friends virtually, using your video-chat app of choice, grab a cold one or a coffee (depending on the air time of whichever episode you’re watching) and catch the action on “Nationals Classics.”
Thursday, March 26 - 6:30 p.m. - Catcher Matt Wieters collected five RBIs - four of them coming on one swing - at Wrigley Field on Aug. 6, 2017 as the Nats overcame the Cubs 9-4. The visitors trailed 4-3 going into the eighth inning. That’s when Bryce Harper’s one-out single started the rally. Ryan Zimmerman doubled, then Carl Edwards Jr. put Daniel Murphy aboard intentionally, setting up a force at home and the possibility of an inning-ending double play. But then Edwards hit Anthony Rendon with his very next pitch, driving in Harper and tying the score. That brought Wieters to the plate. Like Rendon, he only saw one pitch, and he put it over the center field wall. Brian Goodwin led off the ninth with a solo shot for insurance purposes.
Friday, March 27 - 12:30 p.m. - No shortage of offense in this one, a 13-12 Nats victory at Turner Field on April 28, 2015. Early on, it looked like the Braves would win a laugher, having beat up on Nationals starter A.J. Cole for nine runs in his two innings of work. But the visitors put up crooked numbers in the fifth and seventh to stay in the hunt. Dan Uggla made the kill shot with his three-run homer in the ninth. Leadoff hitter Denard Span went 5-for-6 and catcher José Lobaton went 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
Saturday, March 28 - 11:30 p.m. - The Nats saved the best for last on April 23, 2014. The visiting Angels were up 3-1 going into the ninth inning, and scored an insurance run on Mike Trout’s RBI single. Ernesto Frieri, who would record 11 saves for the Halos before he was traded mid-season to the Pirates, came on in the bottom of the ninth. Lobaton got hold of an 0-2 pitch for a dinger down the right field line. Zach Walters struck out, but then Span singled and Rendon walked. Jayson Werth chased Frieri with a double that scored both runners. Fernando Salas, however, would face just one batter: Adam LaRoche, whose liner to left center plated Werth for the walk-off win.
Sunday, March 29 - 4:30 p.m. - The Nats blew a save chance but got a walk-off victory over the Reds on the afternoon of April 12, 2012. Called to protect the home team’s 2-0 edge in the ninth, Brad Lidge surrendered two walks (one intentional), a double and Ryan Ludwick’s two-RBI single. The Nats loaded the bases in the bottom half, but Danny Espinosa grounded into an inning-ending double play, sending the game to extras. The Reds brought Alfredo Símon on to pitch the home 10th, and his very first offering struck Zimmerman. Werth singled with one out. Then, with two out and Símon facing Roger Bernadina, the reliever threw his 0-1 pitch wildly, allowing Zimmerman to score the game-winning run.
Monday, March 30 - 12:30 p.m. - On July 17, 2012, a wild pitch again would bring the Nats a walk-off win. The home team took a 2-0 advantage into the ninth, but Mets scored three runs to grab the lead. Espinosa singled with two out to bring home Ian Desmond (pinch-running for Michael Morse, who had singled) and avoid a crushing defeat. Josh Thole doubled in the top of the 10th, scoring future National Murphy, and the Mets again had a one-run lead. Jhonathan Solano led off the home half with a single, then took second base on Steve Lombardozzi’s sac bunt. Harper then sent hair flying and fans jumping with a triple. The Mets walked both Zimmerman and Desmond on purpose. At first, it worked, as they got the force at home on LaRoche’s grounder. But with Tyler Moore at bat, Pedro Beato uncorked a wild pitch. In a deja vu moment, Zimmerman scored the walk-off run.
Monday, March 30 - 11:30 p.m. - Zimmerman, of course, has made a habit of delivering instant victories for the Nats. Such was the case on July 31, 2010. Werth - still a Phillie at this point - led off the ninth with a base on balls and crossed the plate on Carlos Ruiz’s single, giving Philadelphia a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth. Facing Lidge - another future National - Morse led off the home half with a single. Nyjer Morgan bunted him over to second. Lidge walked Adam Kennedy intentionally, but came to regret it. Zimmerman put his 2-1 pitch over the center field fence for the instant win.
Tuesday, March 31 - 12:30 p.m. - Josh Willingham had undoubtedly the biggest day of his career on July 27, 2009. His two grand slams accounted for the big blows as the Nationals walloped the Brewers 14-6 at Miller Park. Christian Guzman and Adam Dunn collected two RBIs apiece, and Morgan and Zimmerman each drove in a run.
Tuesday, March 31 - 11:30 p.m. - The Nats visited Cleveland for an interleague matchup with the Indians in mid-June 2010. Leading the series finale by a run, the Nats got back-to-back doubles from Willingham and Ivan Rodriguez and a Desmond homer to take a 6-1 advantage. Then in the eighth, facing future National Tony Sipp, the visitors recorded five straight hits, including Bernadina’s two-run homer and Alberto Gonzalez’s RBI double. The Indians mounted a three-run rally in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. The 9-4 Nats victory gave Stephen Strasburg a 2-0 start to his young career.
Wednesday, April 1 - 4:30 p.m. - The vast majority of pitchers never even make it to the majors. The vast majority of those who do get there never go a whole game at the big league level without giving up at least one hit. For the few who do accomplish a no-hit game, that one game makes the season, even the man’s whole career, special. Max Scherzer doubled down on special in 2015, his first year with the Nationals. Scherzer made his final start of the season on Oct. 3 at Citi Field, and he made it a memorable one, fanning 17 batters and surrendering zero hits against the Mets as the Nats finished the season’s next-to-last game with a 2-0 victory. It marked Scherzer’s second no-hitter of the season, his first coming June 20 against the Pirates.
Wednesday, April 1 - 11:30 p.m. - Laynce Nix had the Nats’ best day at the plate on July 4, 2011, going 2-for-4 with two RBI , but Jayson Werth was the straw that stirred the drink. The Cubs were in town, and battled the Nats to a 4-4 tie at the end of regulation. Werth led off the bottom of the 10th with a walk. With the pitcher’s spot due up next (there had been a double switch in the seventh) Jim Riggleman sent in pinch-hitter ... Liván Hernández? Yep, the veteran starter could handle the bat, and got a bunt down to get Werth to second. The Cubs then pulled Marcos Mateo to send Carlos Mármol to the mound. Werth decided not to let him get comfortable. He stole third, then scampered home on a wild pitch to give the Nats a 5-4 victory.