#TBT to “Nationals Classics”: Long live the new king

The days keep getting shorter, and maybe your mood - already frayed by pandemic fatigue - is getting darker. Fret not, because MASN can help with that.

For a baseball fan (which you must be, or you wouldn’t be on this site), there’s no better morale booster than watching your team pull off a thrilling win. And “Nationals Classics” keeps them coming at you throughout the void we call the offseason.

Among this week’s offerings, you’ll watch the longtime face of the franchise do his hero thing and see a couple of the Nats’ next-gen stars pick on some National League East rivals.

So buck up, Sparky, and get your groove back with “Nationals Classics.”

Thursday, Dec. 10 - 11 a.m. - Nationals starter J.D. Martin went six innings and gave up six hits, while Braves righty Tim Hudson allowed seven hits over seven innings, but neither team had broken through at the end of regulation at Turner Field on Oct. 4, 2009. So on the last day of the season, the two teams took a 1-1 deadlock into extra innings. There the score would stay until the top of the 15th. Elijah Dukes reached via walk, and then with two out, Wil Nieves singled to get him over and Alberto González got him in with a base knock. Logan Kensing gave up a single and a double in the home half, but held on to notch a road win.

Friday, Dec. 11 - 6 p.m. - Juan Soto started the pandemic-shortened 2020 season even further behind than most of the rest of the players in the majors. Sidelined at the start of the campaign by what he believed to be a false positive test for COVID-19, the Nationals outfield star didn’t get onto the field until Aug. 5. But he hit the ground running, hitting .423 with four homers in his first seven games and never looking back. On the season’s final day, Sept. 27, Soto walked in his first plate appearance and then stroked a second-inning single up the middle. Skipper Davey Martinez gave him the rest of the day off, essentially ensuring the Childish Bambino would be the youngest ever to win the National League batting title. The rest of the team hit pretty well too, pounding the Mets 15-5.

Sunday, Dec. 13 - 11:30 p.m. - OK, the weekend is coming to a close, and you’re not looking forward to another Monday of excruciating Zoom meetings. Well, look on the bright side. If you’re working from home you get to skip the commute, and that means you can stay up a little later than you would otherwise. Thus, you can enjoy this July 31, 2010 triumph over the Phillies without shorting yourself too much on sleep. Ryan Zimmerman, as he has done with amazing frequency throughout an amazing career, dealt the Phils a sudden death with a three-run homer that delivered a 7-5 walk-off.

Tuesday, Dec. 15 - 3 p.m. - Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Zimmerman did it again on May 19, 2015, in an interleague matchup with the Yankees. The Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on longballs from Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper, but the Yanks batted around in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead. Nats starter Gio Gonz├ílez completed the fifth inning, but not before surrendering a two-run homer to Mark Teixeira. The Nats rallied for three runs in the bottom half, and then in the sixth tied the game 6-6 on a Wilson Ramos homer. In the bottom of the 10th, lanky left-hander Andrew Miller sandwiched two strikeouts around a walk to Yunel Escobar, bringing Zimmerman to the plate. Cue the fireworks.

Wednesday, Dec. 16 - 6 p.m. - In 2019, the Phillies spent most of April, all of May and early June in first place in the National League East. Unfortunately for them, the season continued into late September, and like the autumn leaves, the Phils fell rapidly. Their late-season swoon reached its nadir in D.C. as the Nats turned a rare five-game sweep. On Sept. 24, in the nightcap of a doubleheader (a makeup for a rainout) in the middle of that string of games, Trea Turner provided the big blow, sending a Jared Hughes pitch out of the yard with the bases loaded as the Nats ended a long day with a 6-5 win. The demolition of their division rivals would help them secure a wild card spot and, well, you know the rest.

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