#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: A wild introduction to postseason run

There’s no way around it. We miss baseball.

We miss everything about a trip to South Capitol Street to see the Nationals play. The way the warm June breezes buffet the upper deck. The taste of a Ben’s Chili Bowl half smoke when you bite into it. The taste of a cold, refreshing Budweiser. The roar of the crowd.

We don’t know when baseball will return, but until the owners and players can come to some sort of agreement, MASN has plenty of “Nationals Classics” to help you get your diamond fix.

This week’s offerings include the Nats’ first game in D.C. after arriving from Montreal before the 2005 season, and the beginning of last fall’s postseason run, starting with the wild card win over the Brewers and ending with a tripleheader of National League Division Series games, including a grand finale in Game 5 against the Dodgers.

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 11 - 9 a.m. - The Nats saved their best for the late innings in this throwback from April 17, 2005, the finale of the first homestand against the Diamondbacks. The Snakes were cruising with a 3-1 lead until a six-run eighth inning propelled the Nats to a 7-3 comeback win. Nick Johnson cracked a two-run triple, then came home on a sac fly to give the home team the lead. Later in the frame, a bases-loaded walk and a José Vidro two-run single closed out the scoring.

Thursday, June 11 - 4 p.m. - OK, so we’re a little out of chronological order, but you’ll still enjoy this retro memory from April 14, 2005, the night the Nationals debuted at RFK Stadium with a 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks. Liván Hernández worked into the ninth, allowing just three hits, and Vinny Castilla contributed three extra-base hits, including a two-run homer. The crowd of 45,596 had the upper deck rocking.

Friday, June 12 - 12:30 p.m. - A day after fracturing his nose in a pregame bunting drill, Max Scherzer dispatched the Phillies in a 2-0 Nationals victory on June 19, 2019. Sporting a nasty black eye, the right-hander yielded four hits and walked a pair in seven innings, striking out 12. Homers by Matt Adams and Victor Robles made him a winner.

Saturday, June 13 - 1:30 p.m. - Josh Willingham was a one-man wrecking crew at Miller Park on July 27, 2009. The right fielder blasted a pair of grand slams and drove in eight runs as the Nats prevailed in a 14-6 slugfest.

Sunday, June 14 - 8 p.m. - The Nationals’ march toward a World Series crown began on Oct. 1, 2019 with a 4-3 triumph over the Brewers in the NL wild card game. The Brewers got to Scherzer early and led 3-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth. That’s when Juan Soto hit a bases-loaded two-run single, with another run scoring when right fielder Trent Grisham overran the ball. With the victory, the Nats advanced to the NLDS against the Dodgers.

Tuesday, June 16 - 11:30 a.m. - The Dodgers took Game 1 of the NLDS in L.A., but the Nationals evened the best-of-five series with a 4-2 win in Game 2. Stephen Strasburg worked six innings and fanned 10 before turning the game over to the bullpen, which included a one-inning relief stint from Scherzer. Howie Kendrick drove home the game’s initial run in the first and a two-run second, featuring a Adam Eaton’s RBI single and Anthony Rendon’s run-scoring double, gave Strasburg room to work.

Tuesday, June 16 - 3 p.m. - When the Dodgers won Game 3, it put the Nats in a position they would become familiar with during the postseason: facing elimination. No worries, as Game 4 starter Scherzer was on, allowing a run on four hits over seven innings in a 6-1 win that knotted the series. Ryan Zimmerman had the big blow, a three-run homer in the fifth.

Tuesday, June 16 - 6:30 p.m. - The Nationals had never won an NLDS - until beating the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine on Oct. 9. 2019 in grand fashion. A taut game went to extras tied at 3-3, but didn’t stay that way for long. The Nats loaded the bases off Joe Kelley and Kendrick cleared them with a salami to the batter’s eye in center field. A 7-3 win crushed the Dodgers, who had won 106 games in the regular season, and sent the Nats to the NL Championship Series to face the Cardinals.

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