#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: Worth the wait for late heroics

When you watch a baseball game - whether in person or from the comfort of your basement recliner - there’s a certain end game at play. Simply put, you want your team to win. You don’t really care how they do it, as long as they have more runs than the other guys at the end of the game.

Sometimes it takes nine innings, sometimes more. Sometimes it’s a stellar pitching performance that does the trick, other times it’s a fortuitous piece of offense that’s the catalyst.

Sometimes, weird things happen, which brings us to this week’s collection of “Nationals Classics” on MASN.

As you peruse this week’s games, just remember: Wins come in many forms.

Thursday, May 14 - 9 a.m. - The Nationals beat the Mets 5-4 on July 17, 2012, and it took extra innings and a lucky bounce to cement the victory. The bullpen blew a 2-0 lead in the top of the ninth, Tyler Clippard surrendering a three-run homer to Jordanny Valdespin, but the Nats tied the game in the home half on Danny Espinosa’s RBI single. Reliever Mike Gonzalez coughed up the lead in the top of the 10th, but Bryce Harper’s run-scoring triple again knotted the score in the home 10th, setting the stage for some strategy that backfired. Two intentional walks loaded the bases, and after a fielder’s choice play at the plate, Ryan Zimmerman scampered home on a wild pitch by Pedro Beato to end it.

Thursday, May 14 - 4 p.m. - Officially, Anthony Rendon’s infield single was the final hit of the Nats’ 1-0 triumph over the Diamondbacks on Aug. 21, 2014, but it wasn’t Rendon’s tapper to third that resulted in the decisive tally. Third baseman Jordan Pacheco’s errant throw allowed Denard Span to score from second, giving the Nationals their 10th straight win and fifth walk-off in six games.

Friday, May 15 - 7 p.m. - No way around it, Max Scherzer looked a mess on June 19, 2019, when he started despite a broken nose and a nasty-looking bruise around his right eye, the remnants of a batting practice bunt the day before that struck him in the face. But Scherzer’s no mere mortal and his outward appearance had no bearing as he carved up the Phillies in a 2-0 win, working seven innings of four-hit ball with 10 strikeouts. Solo homers by Brian Dozier and Victor Robles provided the offense.

Saturday, May 16 - 10 a.m. - The Nats’ home opener on April 12, 2012 went to extra innings with the home team scratching across a run in the 10th for a walk-off 3-2 victory. The winning rally started when Zimmerman was struck by an Alfredo Simón pitch. After a one-out single and a groundout put runners at second and third, and with Roger Bernadina batting, Zimmerman scored the game winner when Simón bounced a wild pitch.

Sunday, May 17 - 4:30 p.m. - The bottom of the ninth was again kind to the Nats on May 2, 2012. Ian Desmond’s walk-off two-run homer to left-center provided a 5-4 win. Check out Harper’s one-handed grab earlier in the game if you like defensive highlights.

Monday, May 18 - noon - Trailing 4-2 to the homestanding Pirates on June 22, 2005, the Nats got single runs in the third, fifth and eighth innings to pull out a 5-4 win at PNC Park. An RBI single by Brian Schneider in the eighth snapped a 4-4 tie and Chad Cordero worked a 1-2-3 ninth to collect his 23rd save.

Monday, May 18 - 7 p.m. - A 4-3 win over the Braves on June 21, 2019 was the fifth in a row for the Nationals, and featured a Yan Gomes home run. But with two outs in the ninth, Robles made a sliding grab of Dansby Swanson’s fly ball to short right-center to end it.

Tuesday, May 19 - 4 p.m. - Harper had one three-homer game as a member of the Nationals, and it came on May 6, 2015 in a 7-5 victory over the Marlins on South Capitol Street. Harper connected three times off Tom Koehler: solo shots in the second and fifth and a two-run blast in the third. His five-RBI day was enough offense for Scherzer, who got the win despite laboring through seven innings with 10 strikeouts.

Wednesday, May 20 - noon - The Nationals welcomed the Orioles to D.C. for an interleague game on May 24, 2009 and slugger Adam Dunn was a one-man wrecking crew. Dunn homered twice, including a grand slam, and drove in six runs in a 7-5 Washington win.

Wednesday, May 20 - 7 p.m. - Scherzer was at his best on July 6, 2019 in a 6-0 whitewashing of the Royals. The right-hander won his seventh straight start by blanking K.C. on four hits through seven innings and whiffing 11 two days after the birth of his second daughter.

Wednesday, May 20 - 11:30 p.m. - Saving their best for last on April 23, 2014, the Nats tallied four times in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 victory over the Angels. Jose Lobaton led off the home ninth with a solo homer, Jayson Werth tied the game with a two-run double and Adam LaRoche plated Werth with a walk-off single to left-center.

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