#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: It just wasn’t in the cards for St. Louis

What with the coronavirus and all, you might feel squeamish about leafing through Father’s Day cards wherever you usually go to get that sort of thing. But do at least give dad a call this Sunday. If you still (or again) live with dad, you’ll want to spend the day together sharing some great baseball memories as you watch “Nationals Classics” on MASN. Who knows? Maybe you attended one or more of these games together, perhaps the one against the Yankees on Father’s Day 2006.

Ryan Zimmerman and his wife, Heather, recently welcomed their third child. So for Father’s Day, what could be more appropriate than a trio of “Nationals Classics” featuring game-changing performances from the Nationals’ longtime star? The middle one being the aforementioned 2006 showdown with the Yanks, when Zimmerman wrote another chapter in the legend of Mr. Walk-Off .

Before we get to those games, though, there’s a bit of business with the Cardinals, specifically the 2019 National League Championship Series, which you can binge-watch today. The Nats, you may recall, made short work of the Redbirds, providing something of respite between the anxiety-ridden wild card game against the Brewers, the cardiac arrest-inducing NL Division Series against the Dodgers and the down-to-the-wire World Series with the Astros. But while the Nats completed a four-game sweep of the Cards, the individual games of the NLCS offered plenty of drama.

And the excitement of “Nationals Classics” doesn’t stop there. The schedule for the next seven days is loaded, so be sure to mark your calendar and tune in.

Thursday, June 18 - 9 a.m. - When talk turns to the Nationals’ outstanding starting pitching, the discussion usually focuses on Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer. But opposing teams overlook Aníbal Sánchez at their peril. The Nats’ No. 4 starter put them in the driver’s seat in Game 1 of the 2019 NLCS with a nearly flawless 7 2/3-inning performance. Sánchez gave up just one hit, to the last batter he faced, before Sean Doolittle emerged from the bullpen to close out a 2-0 Nats victory in St. Louis.

Thursday, June 18 - 12:30 p.m. - Scherzer also flirted with a no-hitter the day after Sánchez did, giving up just a couple of walks before Paul Goldschmidt got the Cardinals’ first hit of the game in the seventh inning. Michael A. Taylor homered to put the Nats on the board in the third and Adam Eaton’s two-run double in the eighth provided the margin in a 3-1 victory.

Thursday, June 18 - 3:30 p.m. - Strasburg followed Scherzer’s 11-strikeout Game 2 with 12 Ks in Game 3 of the NLCS back home in Washington. The Nats enjoyed a lot more breathing room in this one, prevailing 8-1 as Eaton singled to drive home the game’s first run and Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick each doubled in a four-run home third. Kendrick and Zimmerman had back-to-back RBI doubles in the fifth, and Victor Robles led off the sixth with a home run.

Thursday, June 18 - 7 p.m. - The Nats handed Dakota Hudson a night he’d like to forget in Game 4 of the 2019 NLCS. The starter recorded just one out before Cardinals manager Mike Shildt had to summon his bullpen. The Nationals sent 11 batters to the plate in a seven-run first inning. The Cards did score three runs in the fifth to make it 7-4, but that was as close as they would get to extending the series, and the Nats were World Series-bound.

Friday, June 19 - 2:30 p.m. - The 2009 season marked the Nationals’ low ebb, but they ended their year on an up note, completing a four-game sweep in Atlanta on Oct. 4. Adam Dunn’s RBI single tied the score at 1-1 in the seventh inning, and there it would stay until the 15th. Alberto González singled with two out to put the visitors ahead 2-1. Logan Kensing then pitched out of trouble in his second inning of work to get the win.

Saturday, June 20 - 2 p.m. - Dunn muscled up against the Padres on July 7, 2010, hitting three homers in a 7-6 Nationals victory. The Padres rallied for four runs in the last three innings, but Matt Capps recovered from Matt Stairs’ solo shot in the ninth to notch a save.

Sunday, June 21 - 1 p.m. - What’s more phun than beating the Phillies? Doing so with a three-run, walk-off homer. But that’s just the kind of fun guy Zimmerman is. The Nats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first on July 31, 2010, but were down 5-4 going into the ninth. Michael Morse laced a single to center to start the home half and Nyjer Morgan bunted him over. The count on Adam Kennedy ran full before Brad Lidge walked him, bringing Zimmerman to the plate. Nats won 7-5.

Sunday, June 21 - 4:30 p.m. - Dads whose children treated them to a day at Nationals Park on Father’s Day 2006 got a cherry on top when Zimmerman homered off Chien Ming-Wang in the home ninth with Marlon Anderson aboard to turn a 2-1 deficit into an instant 3-2 Nats victory over the visiting Yankees. Gary Majewski got the win in relief of Mike O’Connor, who gave up just four hits and struck out five in seven innings.

Sunday, June 21 - 7:30 p.m. - On May 19, 2015, nearly nine years after the Father’s Day game outlined above, Zimmerman again walked off the Yankees. This time the game-winning blast came in extras. With Bryce Harper aboard and two out in the 10th, Zimmerman hit one the opposite way off crafty lefty Andrew Miller to secure a 7-6 win.

Monday, June 22 - 9 a.m. - Back to 2010 for another walk-off win. The Nats were hosting the guys from up the parkway on May 23. The Orioles got to Capps for two runs in the ninth to tie the score at 3-3, but Josh Willingham homered with one out in the 10th to send the home folks home happy.

Monday, June 22 - 3:30 - Eventual World Series MVP Strasburg was a mere rookie, making just his second big league start on June 13, 2010. But he made it count, going 5 1/3 innings to earn a win in Cleveland. Iván Rodríguez, Roger Bernadina and Ian Desmond each recorded a pair of RBIs in a 9-4 Nats triumph.

Tuesday, June 23 - 12 noon - In mid-August 2014, the Nationals tore off 10 straight wins, half of them of the walk-off variety, including three in succession. On Sunday, Aug. 17, the Nats wrapped up a series with the Pirates at Nationals Park. The Bucs scored three runs in the ninth to take a 5-4 lead, but Asdrúbal Cabrera drove home Jayson Werth in the bottom half to keep the Nats alive. Werth doubled to start the 11th inning and went to third on Denard Span’s grounder. Scott Hairston hit a fly ball deep enough to score him for a 6-5 win.

Wednesday, June 24 - 10:30 a.m. - A seven-run third inning and a six-run fourth proved more than sufficient to overcome the Brewers on July 27, 2017. The Nats went yard eight times while cruising to a 15-2 victory that day, with Harper and Zimmerman hitting two longballs each. Scherzer got the win with six innings of three-hit ball while striking out nine.

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