#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: Reaching baseball’s October pinnacle

One of the few positive points about living in pandemic hell is that the Nationals continue to be world champions. And the way things are going, they may get an extended stretch atop the baseball world.

In this week’s collections of “Nationals Classics” on MASN, we’re happy to revisit some October baseball, specifically the four World Series games in which the Nats prevailed over the Astros, all of them coming at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. So much for home field advantage, right?

There are some other retro highlights sprinkled into this rotation, dating to the team’s debut season in D.C. after moving from Montreal following the 2004 campaign. And what would “Nationals Classics” be without an appearance from Mr. Walk-Off, who did his thing on the road to lift the Nats to victory?

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25 - 1:30 p.m. - This game from June 24, 2014 went an inordinately long time, Anthony Rendon’s eighth-inning home run forcing an extra-inning game that went 16 frames. Tied at 2-2 in the 16th, Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer to left-center at Milwaukee’s Miller Park and the Nationals had a 4-2 win over the Brewers that lasted 5 hours, 22 minutes.

Friday, June 26 - noon - Few games are as good as a clincher, and this one from Sept. 10, 2017 guaranteed the Nationals their fourth National League East crown in six seasons. Stephen Strasburg worked eight innings of two-hit scoreless ball in a 3-2 win over the Phillies on a celebratory Sunday afternoon. Adrián Sanchez and Victor Robles drove in runs during a two-run sixth and Trea Turner homered in the eighth. Ryan Madson got the save, despite allowing two runs in the ninth.

Saturday, June 27 - 7 p.m. - Get your popcorn ready for Game 1 of the World Series from Oct. 22, 2019. If observers didn’t think the Nats had a chance in the Fall Classic, a 5-4 victory on enemy turf told a different tale. Max Scherzer gutted out five workmanlike innings for the win. Zimmerman and Juan Soto homered, but it was Adam Eaton’s RBI single in the sixth that snapped a 2-2 tie, Soto following with a two-run double.

Sunday, June 28 - 3 p.m. - We’re flashing back to Aug. 21, 2014 for a pitchers’ duel pitting Gio González against the Diamondbacks’ Wade Miley. Both southpaws strung together zero after zero, leaving a scoreless battle to the bullpens. In the bottom of the ninth, Denard Span singled with one out, stole second and scored when third baseman Jordan Pacheco threw wildly after fielding Rendon’s infield single. It was Washington’s 10th straight victory, tying the franchise record.

Sunday, June 28 - 7 p.m. - Game 2 of the 2019 World Series belonged to Strasburg, who yielded two runs while scattering seven hits over six innings. But the Nats’ bats supported the right-hander in a 12-3 romp. Kurt Suzuki, Eaton and Michael A. Taylor went deep, while Asdrúbal Cabrera drove in three runs.

Monday, June 29 - 7 p.m. - Strasburg did it again in Game 6, working into the ninth inning as the Nationals won 7-2 to even the Fall Classic at three games apiece and force a winner-take-all Game 7. Fifth-inning solo homers by Eaton and Soto off Justin Verlander erased the home team’s 2-1 lead. Rendon then took over, cracking a two-run shot in the seventh and contributing a two-run double in the ninth.

Tuesday, June 30 - 7 p.m. - Sit back and enjoy a Game 7 for the ages, a 6-2 Nationals triumph that cemented the franchise’s first world championship and D.C.’s first baseball title since the Senators’ win in 1924. The victory followed a familiar script, with the Nats getting behind and rallying. Trailing 2-0 in the seventh, Rendon homered off Zack Greinke before Soto walked, bringing reliever Will Harris into the game. You know what happened next: Howie Kendrick greeted Harris with a shot to right that clanged off the right field foul pole for a two-run home run and a 3-2 lead. Soto padded the lead in the eighth with a run-scoring single and Eaton singled home a pair in the ninth as Nats fans prepared for a celebration for the ages.

Wednesday, July 1 - 11:30 p.m. - At Pittsburgh’s PNC Park on June 22, 2005, the Nationals won 5-4 on Brian Schneider’s RBI single in the eighth. José Guillen homered twice for the Nats.

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