Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Best win in Nats history?
Still aglow more than 13 hours after Wilson Ramos' titanic blast capped the Nationals' remarkable, 6-5 victory over the Mariners? You're probably not alone. And if you need a mid-day, pick-me-up, just re-watch the Ramos homer and listen to the various calls, from Johnny Holliday and F.P. Santangelo on MASN to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on 106.7 FM to Dave Sims and Mike Blowers on FSN Northwest. Slightly different takes from the winning and losing sides.
As you know by now, that was by far the largest ninth-inning comeback in Nationals history. Never before since they arrived in D.C. had they rallied from more than two runs down in the ninth to win, let alone four.
So that, on its own merits, made last night's game one of the best wins in the brief history of the Nats. But was it the best win in Nats history?
Think back to the more remarkable victories over the last 6 1/2 seasons. It's hard to think of a more-jarring win, one that appeared less likely to happen as the night played out.
But there have been better wins. Not necessarily because of the size of the game-winning rally, but because of the context surrounding it. Let's look at some of the candidates...
APRIL 14, 2005: NATS 5, DIAMONDBACKS 3
The first major-league game played in the District in 34 years. The old Senators taking the field and handing their gloves over to the new Nationals. George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch. A sellout crowd at RFK Stadium making the stands bounce after Vinny Castilla tripled for the Nats' first run. Livan Hernandez carrying a one-hitter into the ninth. Castilla coming within a single of hitting for the cycle, then getting plunked by Lance Cormier in his final at-bat, drawing boos from the crowd. Chad Cordero closing it out to set off fireworks from the stadium roof.
JULY 3, 2005: NATS 5, CUBS 4
After Cordero blows a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth at Wrigley Field, the Nats storm back to take another two-run lead in the top of the 11th, only to watch as Hector Carrasco and Joey Eischen blow it again in the bottom of the 11th. Then Brian Schneider homers in the top of the 12th, Eischen holds on in the bottom of the inning and the Nationals reach the halfway point of the season with a 50-31 record, 5 1/2 games up in the NL East. The unquestioned high point of the last 6 1/2 seasons.
JUNE 17, 2006: NATS 11, YANKEES 9
Ramon Ortiz gets torched for seven runs in the top of the fifth, putting the Nationals in an insurmountable 9-2 hole. Except it isn't insurmountable. Daryle Ward, Ryan Zimmerman and Brian Schneider ignite a five-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to make it 9-6. Ward homers and Robert Fick singles in the seventh to make it 9-8. Then Alfonso Soriano steals third and scores on an error, Jose Guillen triples and Zimmerman singles in the bottom of the eighth to cap a stunning rally, put the Nats up 11-9 and leave a sellout crowd at RFK breathless.
JUNE 18, 2006: NATS 3, YANKEES 2
One day later, the Nationals are on the verge of losing to the Bronx Bombers when all of a sudden Marlon Anderson singles with one out in the ninth and rookie Ryan Zimmerman belts a first-pitch fastball from Chien-Ming Wang to left for the first walk-off homer of his career, with his dad in attendance on Father's Day.
MARCH 30, 2008: NATS 3, BRAVES 2
At sparkling, brand-new Nationals Park, a Paul Lo Duca passed ball allows the tying run to score in the top of the ninth and potentially ruin the nationally televised debut game at the new ballpark. But with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Zimmerman shows the entire baseball world why he is "Mr. Walk-Off," crushing a pitch from Peter Moylan into the Red Porch to set off a mad celebration.
SEPT. 30, 2009: NATS 7, METS 4
The game means nothing in the standings, but for pure excitement, how can you top Justin Maxwell's walk-off, grand slam in the final home game of the season? The Maryland native lives out every little kid's fantasy, right in his own backyard.
JUNE 8, 2010: NATS 5, PIRATES 2
The eyes of the baseball world once again are on Washington, everyone curious to see how Stephen Strasburg will fare in his much-hyped debut. Somehow, the 21-year-old flamethrower surpasses everyone's wildest dreams, striking out 14 batters, including the last seven he faces before receiving a curtain call from the sellout crowd.
JUNE 21, 2011: NATS 6, MARINERS 5
Down 5-1 entering the ninth and showing no signs of life whatsoever, the Nationals take advantage of Justin Smoak's error and Brandon League's bruised leg to ignite a stunning rally. Wilson Ramos' three-run homer off David Pauley caps the largest ninth-inning comeback in the team's brief history and brings the Nats to within one game of the .500 mark.
So what do you think? Which of these gets your vote as the best win in Nationals history? Or do you have another one in mind that didn't make the list?
Let the debate begin...
Posted by Mark Zuckerman at 11:42 AM