With the Washington Nationals having a tough go of it in 2022, we thought we’d brighten everyone’s day and relive some of the team’s best moments in its history.
Although the Nats have only been a D.C. franchise since 2005 after relocating from Montreal, there has been no shortage of huge plays, epic comebacks, and of course, the hoisting of the Commissioner’s Trophy at the 2019 World Series.
Here’s a look at our take on the top five games in the Washington Nationals’ short but colorful franchise history.
5. Stephen Strasburg’s First Game
Date: June 8, 2010
Final score: Nationals 5, Pirates 2
It was a rough start for the Nationals after relocating from Montreal. The team spent the better half of a decade either bottom-feeding or toiling in mediocrity and was desperate for a glimmer of hope.
Enter Stephen Strasburg. It’s not often that a No. 1 overall pick gets the type of hype that ‘Stras’ had, and expectations were high for him to turn the franchise around.
After dominating in the minors to start the season, Strasburg got the call for his first career start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The flame-thrower came out humming with a mix of 100-MPH fastballs and nasty breaking balls and struck out six batters after the first time through the order.
The Pirates touched him up with a couple of runs, but his overall performance was excellent. His debut ended with a line that read: 7 IP, 2 ER, 14 K’s, 0 BB, 95 pitches.
The 14 punchouts were the highest by a Nationals pitcher to date at the time and the highest total of the season in the MLB.
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4. Max Scherzer Throws No-Hitter
Date: June 20, 2015
Final score: Nationals 6, Pirates 0
Five years after Strasburg’s debut, the Nationals added future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer to the roster. On June 20, Scherzer put on a show for the Washington faithful and pitched one of the most dominant performances of his career.
Max was perfect through 8 2/3 innings, and it seemed like there was nothing that would stand in the way between him and the elusive perfect game. But with two outs, an inside pitch glanced off of Jose Tabata’s arm, and the bid for perfecto came to a crushing end.
Scherzer still got the no-hitter and finished the game throwing 106 pitches with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
3. 2019 National League Wild Card Game
Date: Oct. 1, 2019
Final score: Nationals 4, Brewers 3
The Nationals’ historic 2019 season was down to its final six outs, trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by two runs in the eighth inning. That’s when the legend of Juan Soto started to take shape.
The 20-year-old rookie was playing in his first playoff game and officially put the league on notice with a single to right field in the bottom of the eight that scored all three base runners after Milwaukee outfielder Trent Grisham misplayed the ball, to put the Nats up 4-3.
Daniel Hudson recorded the final three outs to save the game and sent Washington to the Divisional Series to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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2. 2019 National League Division Series Game 5
Date: Oct. 9, 2019
Final score: Nationals 7, Dodgers 3
It had been a decade of heartbreak for the Nationals, who had seen plenty of Divisional Series but always failed to make it past Game 5. That all changed in 2019 when the Nats finally flipped the script. It was time for yet another comeback.
Trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning, Rendon and Soto hit back-to-back dingers to square the game up.
Then in the top of the 10th with the game knotted at 3, Howie Kendrick hit a grand slam to seal the Dodgers’ fate. The Nationals were finally off to the National League Championship Series.
1. 2019 World Series Game 7
Date: Oct. 30, 2019
Final score: Nationals 6, Astros 2
It was the year of the comeback for the Nationals. After starting the season 19-31, it was unlikely for them to be in the World Series in the first place.
But after a magical playoff run, including a come from behind Wild Card victory against the Brewers, a Divisional Series win in which they trailed the Dodgers by two games, and a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in an NLCS series, the Nationals found themselves on the big stage.
Washington once again played catch-up against the vaunted Houston Astros. After winning the first two in Houston, the Nats lost the next three at home and headed back to Texas down 3-2.
A game six victory set the stage for a Scherzer vs. Zack Greinke showdown in Game 7.
Washington once again found itself in a 2-0 hole heading into the seventh inning. After a solo shot by Rendon, Soto walked, and Kendrick hit a go-ahead home run to put the Nats up 3-2.
They got solid pitching for the rest of the game and added a few more insurance runs on the way to the first World Series Championship in franchise history.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip