#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: Slugfests and nailbiters

Guess you’ll just have send your mother a card this year. If she’s like my mom, she’d probably prefer that you take her to see a ballgame, but sadly, that’s not an option this Mother’s Day.

The good news is that if you happen to be living under the same roof during the Great COVID-19 Shutdown of 2020, you and mom can park yourselves in front of the TV on Sunday (or any other day this week) and enjoy Nationals baseball together. True, we can only bring you the exploits of seasons past, but it still beats the buffet you’d have been stuck with if you weren’t stuck at home.

And even if you’re apart, you can always call your mother (which you should do more often anyway) and pass the time of day while each of you is taking in “Nationals Classics” in your respective living rooms. Heck, if she’s not averse to going online, you could even try one of those video conference calls all the cool kids are doing these days. Just put on some pants, please.

This week’s offerings include a veritable smorgasbord, from homer-heavy slugfests to supreme pitching performances. So dig in and enjoy a helping of “Nationals Classics.”

Thursday, May 7 - 9 a.m. - Bryce Harper singled with the bases loaded to record the first walk-off of his career on June 5, 2012 as the Nats notched a 7-6 triumph over the Mets in 12 innings. The Nationals trailed by a run heading into the frame, but Michael Morse and Ian Desmond tied the score with back-to-back doubles. Five batters later, Harper went with Elvin Ramírez’s 0-2 pitch, poking it into left field for the game-winner.

Friday, May 8 - 1 p.m. - With a total of 21 hits in the game, you couldn’t really call the April, 21, 2015 tilt between the Nationals and Cardinals a pitchers’ duel, but the score at the end of regulation was 1-1. With two out in the bottom of the 10th, Yunel Escobar changed that with a walk-off solo homer.

Friday, May 8 - 7 p.m. - The Aug. 22, 2018 game at Nationals Park against the Phillies was all about delayed gratification. With the Nats trailing by a run in the ninth with two out and Juan Soto standing on second base, Ryan Zimmerman hit an opposite-field fly ball that he thought had cleared the wall for the instant win. But when he saw no umpire twirling his finger, Zimmerman picked up his pace to make sure he’d reach second safely and at least secure a tie score, while simultaneously extending his arms with palms upward as if to say, “What’s the deal?” The deal was that the on-field umps had ruled the ball had hit the wall and bounced back onto the field of play without leaving it. But New York got eyeballs on the replay and overruled them. Game over, with the Nats 8-7 winners.

Saturday, May 9 - 11:30 p.m. - We’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of this one, believe it or not. July 7, 2010 was the day big Adam Dunn showed why his left-handed bat was in demand over a 14-year career in the majors. Dunn homered three times to drive in five runs in the Nationals’ 7-6 win over the Padres.

Sunday, May 10 - 1 p.m. - Max Scherzer had himself a day against the Pirates on June 20, 2015, but he might’ve been kicking himself at the end of that day. Having been perfect through 8 2/3 innings, Scherzer plunked José Tabata. But the next batter, Josh Harrison, flied out to left and the no-hitter was in the books. The Nats won 6-0.

Monday, May 11 - noon - The Nationals put their second National League East title in three years in the books on Sept. 16, 2014 with a 3-0 win in Atlanta. Tanner Roark and Braves starter Aaron Harang each went seven innings, but Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer in the fifth, and that would be all the visitors would need. In the ninth, though, Desmond came home from third on a wild pitch for a bit of insurance.

Monday, May 11 - 7 p.m. - It wasn’t like the Tigers didn’t know what they had when they let Scherzer walk as a free agent following the 2014 season. In his five years in Detroit the fiery right-hander made 161 starts, going 82-35 with a 3.52 ERA. Four years ago on this very date, the Tigers visited Nationals Park and got a painful reminder of what might have been. Facing his former club, Scherzer struck out 20 in a 3-2 win for the Nats. Side note: The losing pitcher was none other than Jordan Zimmermann, who was in his first year with the Tigers after leaving Washington as a free agent.

Tuesday, May 12 - 1 p.m. - This wild win from July 17, 2012 kicks off a Nationals double feature on MASN. Tyler Clippard entered the game in the top of the ninth to save a 2-0 win but gave up singles to the first two batters before Jordany Valdespin homered to put the Mets ahead 3-2. Danny Espinosa hit an RBI single in the bottom half to send the game to extra innings. With the Nats again trailing by a run in the bottom of the 10th, Harper tripled to drive in Jhonatan Solano. The Mets then elected to intentionally walk both Zimmerman and Desmond. Tim Byrdak coaxed the grounder he wanted from Adam LaRoche for the force at home, but after coming into the game to face Tyler Moore, Mets righty Pedro Beato threw a wild 1-2 pitch to bring home Zimmerman for the walk-off 5-4 win.

Tuesday, May 12 - 4:30 p.m. - Jordan Zimmermann’s one-hit gem allowed the Nats to squeak past Reds starter Homer Bailey for a 1-0 victory on April 26, 2013. Harper tripled down the right-field line in the fourth and Jayson Werth singled to bring him home.

Wednesday, May 13 - 12:30 p.m. - The Nats and Braves brought the lumber to Turner Field on April 28, 2015, notching 32 hits between them. Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla topped the hit parade, going just a double short of the cycle while driving in five runs. His three-run home run in the ninth put the Nats ahead for good in a game in which they were behind 9-1 after two innings but ended up winning 13-12.

Wednesday, May 13 - 7 p.m. - Baseball’s two brightest young stars took center stage on July 18, 2017 when the Nationals visited Anaheim to take on the Angels. As if following a Hollywood script, both Harper and Mike Trout homered in the first inning. But unlike Trout, Harper had more than just that one hit, going 4-for-4. Anthony Rendon and Adam Lind also turned in multi-hit performances in the 4-3 Nationals win.

blog comments powered by Disqus