Although the start of the 2020 regular season has been delayed, and no baseball seems to be in the immediate future, Washington Nationals fans have many magical moments to look back on from the 2019 season. In a season where many fans clamored for major changes to the organization after a dismal 19-31 start, the Nationals capped off the 2010s with their best and most entertaining season of the decade.
Over the course of their 15-year tenure in the Nation’s Capital, the Nationals have their fair share of memorable events such as Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off home run in the first game at Nationals Park, the Stephen Souza Jr. catch to finish the Jordan Zimmerman no-hitter, and Jayson Werth’s heroic home run in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS. However, many of these moments have happened over the course of the regular season, and have ended in heartbreaking defeats in the postseason including the ninth inning of the 2012 NLDS, and the fifth inning of the 2017 NLDS. The 2019 Nationals were a special team, with special players, and pulled off one of the most incredible comeback stories in sports history. Here are the top 10 moments in the 2019 season for the Washington Nationals.
The Washington Nationals Top 10 2019 Moments
10. Aaron Barrett‘s Return to the Big League Mound
Aaron Barrett’s journey back to the Major League mound took four long years, but it culminated in a scoreless inning against the Atlanta Braves on September 7th. Barrett underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 after being one of the Nationals most dependable relievers over the 2014 season. On his way back from Tommy John surgery, Barrett broke his arm in a gruesome injury which left viewers screaming. However, after a strong season at Double-A Harrisburg, Barrett was recalled to the Major League club.
Aaron Barrett, the “Bear” as referenced by Nationals fans, worked around a walk against the Braves and struck out Ronald Acuña Jr on his way to a scoreless inning of relief. As he walked off the mound, he was met by many of his coaches and teammates. During the inning, it all seemed to hit Barrett where he was emotional in the dugout. Many Nationals fans were cheering for Barrett throughout the minor leagues and his season-debut was a moment to remember for Nationals fans.
9. Victor Robles‘ Game-Tying Home Run Versus the Phillies
After being down five runs heading into the sixth inning, the Nationals climbed back to within one run against the Philadelphia Phillies. Victor Robles was at the plate versus Phillies reliever Edubray Ramos. Down to his last strike, Robles took Ramos deep to left-center field to tie the game. It was Robles’ third hit of the night and third home run of the season.
There was no shortage of drama on this early April night. Bryce Harper tried to pull the Phillies to a strong 8-2 start as he took his former teammate Stephen Strasburg deep in the third inning. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Sean Doolittle struck out Harper with the go-ahead run on first base. Then, he got J.T. Realmuto to lineout with runners on first and second. In the tenth, Juan Soto joined in on the heroics as he blasted a three-run home run that stayed just left of the right-field foul pole to give the Nationals a 10-6 win.
8. Anthony Rendon‘s “Ball Don’t Lie” in Game Six of the World Series
On the brink of elimination, the Nationals tried to extend their game six lead. After Yan Gomes got on base to start the inning, Trea Turner had a swinging bunt down the third baseline. Brad Peacock fielded the slow-roller and threw it off the glove of Marwin Gonzalez, and it set up a second and third, with nobody out for the Nationals. However, the umpires called Turner out on a runner’s interference call.
With tensions running high, where Dave Martinez would be ejected after the inning, Anthony Rendon continued his clutch hitting by hitting a home run to left-center field, extending the Nationals lead to 5-2. In the ninth, he hit a two-run double to stave off elimination, and force a decisive game seven.
7.Trea Turner’s Playoff-Clinching Go-Ahead Grand Slam Against the Phillies
After a curveball by Aaron Nola that may have hit the inside corner of the plate, Howie Kendrick walked to load the bases for Trea Turner. Turner has had his fair share of heroic moments with the bases loaded as he hit a go-ahead grand slam against the Miami Marlins in 2018. Facing Jared Hughes, Turner took an 0-1 fastball into the Phillies bullpen in left-center field to give the Nationals a 6-4 lead.
That was the start of the celebration for the Nationals as they moved to 88-69, having their magic number down to one at the end of the game. On the big screen at Nationals Park, the Nationals started their playoff-clinching celebration as Kyle Schwarber grounded out to second for the Chicago Cubs, giving the Nationals their first-ever Wild Card birth.
6. Max Scherzer Strikes Out 10 With a Broken Nose
It was a regular batting practice for the Nationals, before their ace, Max Scherzer, bunted a ball into his face, breaking his nose and giving him a black eye. In what was the most “Max Scherzer” moment of his Nationals career, Scherzer pitched his next scheduled start against the Phillies on June 19th. Scherzer’s command was not at his best, but his fastball was touching 98 miles per hour.
Max Scherzer had seven strikeouts and 97 pitches after six innings. Skipper Dave Martinez sent him back out for the seventh inning, and Scherzer continued his excellence. He struck out the side in the inning, hit 98 on his fastball, and pitched 117 pitches on his way to a gem of an outing.
5. Kurt Suzuki‘s Walk-Off Home Run to Cap Off a Seven-Run 9th Inning
On the brink of losing the first two games of a series to the division rival New York Mets, the Nationals were down 5-4 heading into the ninth inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Trea Turner fielded a routine ground ball and what should’ve been an inning-ending double play. However, Turner forgot that there was only one out, and took the out at first base, extending the inning. The Mets made the Nationals pay as they extended their lead to 10-4.
With fans heading out, the Nationals stage one of the most unbelievable comebacks of the year. After Ryan Zimmerman doubled to cut the lead to 10-8, Kurt Suzuki was up with the game-tying runs in scoring position against Mets closer Edwin Diaz. In an unbelievable at-bat, Suzuki launched a 100 mile per hour fastball into the left-field bleachers to give the Nationals an 11-10 victory and another iconic radio call by Charlie Slowes.
4. Juan Soto’s Game-Tying Home Run Off of Clayton Kershaw
The Nationals were six outs away from another disappointing Game Five NLDS loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Down 3-1 heading into the eighth, the Nationals had the middle of the order up against Clayton Kershaw. Manager Dave Roberts had many options for the eighth inning but decided to stick with his ace.
The first batter of the inning was Anthony Rendon. He launched a home run just over the left-field fence to cut the Dodgers lead to one. On the next pitch, Soto launched a no-doubt home run on a hanging slider by Kershaw deep into the seats at Dodgers Stadium. Soto has been clutch the entire season for the Nationals and showed up again versus a future Hall-of-Famer.
3. Juan Soto’s Go-Ahead Single Against Josh Hader
For many Washington Nationals fans in attendance for the Wild Card game against the Milwaukee Brewers, it had the makings of another elimination game defeat. However, some luck and heroics from their superstar changed the game in a matter of seconds for the Nationals. Down 3-1, the Nationals faced a tall task against reliever Josh Hader. After pinch hitter Michael A Taylor was hit by a pitch, Ryan Zimmerman hit a broken-bat single. On a 3-2 count, Hader missed high to Rendon, loading the bases for Juan Soto.
With the fans on their feet, Juan Soto remained composed in a lefty on lefty matchup. On a 1-1 count, Soto took a 95 mile per hour fastball and pulled a base hit to right field. Brewers right fielder, Trent Grisham, muffed the ball allowing all three runs to score. Following the single, it was a culmination of joy in Nationals Park. Players streamed out of the dugout and the fans were throwing food and drinks, and Juan Soto was caught in a rundown while celebrating his clutch hit.
2. Howie Kendrick’s 10th Inning Grandslam In Game 5 of the NLDS
Howie Kendrick had as rough of an NLDS that any Nationals player had. Kendrick was four for fifteen at the plate, zero extra-base hits and had three errors. Despite the errors, Howie Kendrick erased those doubts in the tenth inning. With the bases loaded, Howie Kendrick launched a fastball over the center-field fence, giving the Nationals a 7-3 lead.
The Washington Nationals dugout erupted and Howie Kendrick pumped his fist, rounding the bases. Kendrick’s grand slam ultimately sent the Nationals to the NLCS for the first time in their Washington history.
1. Howie Kendrick’s 7th Inning Home Run in Game 7 of the World Series
In Game Seven of the World Series, Houston Astros starter Zack Greinke was carving up the Nationals lineup. He had only allowed one hit heading into the seventh inning, where the Astros were leading 2-0. After a home run by Anthony Rendon, and a walk, Astros manager AJ Hinch pulled his starter out of the game. Reliever Will Harris faced Howie Kendrick with the tying run on first base.
Then, on a 0-1 pitch, Howie Kendrick hit a slicing shot down the right-field line. George Springer could only look up and watch as the ball hit the right-field foul pole. The Nationals celebrated as Kendrick gave them a 3-2 lead in game seven of the World Series. The Washington Nationals went on to win the World Series, largely because of Kendrick’s heroics throughout the playoffs.
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