Nationals' top 10 moments of the 2010s decade
Nationals' top 10 moments of the 2010s decade
The 2010s marked the first full decade of professional baseball in D.C. since the 1960s.
Although the Nationals' rise to relevance didn't occur until 2012, they still treated the District's faithful to five playoff teams, four division titles, a slew of individual player awards and, of course, a World Series victory to cap it off.
So as the decade comes to a close, here are the 10 best (in-game) moments of the 2010s.
10. Oct. 15, 2019: Seven-run first inning in Game 4 of the NLCS
The NLCS often gets lost in the tales of the Nationals' World Series run, as a four-game sweep doesn't stand out in an October that included five come-from-behind victories in elimination games.
But in the first inning of a decisive Game 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Nationals punched their ticket to the World Series in emphatic fashion.
Washington scored seven runs off starter Dakota Hudson, sending 11 batters to the plate in a half-inning that saw the Nationals collect six hits.
9. (June 20 & Oct. 3, 2015) Max Scherzer throws two no-hitters
OK, this one is technically cheating.
They may be two games in separate months of a season, but it's impossible to talk about one of Max Scherzer's no-hitters without talking about the other.
Scherzer got the best of the Pirates in the first one, nearly completing a perfect game before Jose Tabata infamously leaned into a pitch—which forced Scherzer to settle for a no-hitter.
The other came in New York, where Scherzer struck out 17 Mets with no walks. His only blemish? A Yunel Escobar error.
8. (May 11, 2016) Max Scherzer strikes out 20 Tigers
Max Scherzer always plays with a chip on his shoulder, but against his former team that opted not to pay him at market price in free agency? Forget about it.
Scherzer tied the all-time record for the most strikeouts in a nine-inning game with 20, joining Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood, Roger Clemens (twice) and Tom Cheney as the only pitchers in MLB history to do it.
7. (Sept. 28, 2014) Steven Souza’s diving catch to complete Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter
It was Game 162, the last practice run before the playoffs began.
But no one told that to Jordan Zimmerman, who blanked the Marlins over nine frames for the first no-hitter in Nationals history.
The final out proved to be the most difficult one to obtain, as it took a diving catch by Steven Souza Jr. in left field to seal the historic feat.
6. (June 8, 2010) Stephen Strasburg strikes out 14 Pirates in his debut
The Nationals were in the midst of a forgettable 93-loss season, but there was excitement in the air in D.C.
Pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg was making his MLB debut and he did more than deliver in front of a sold-out crowd at Nationals Park.
Strasburg set the then-Nationals record with 14 strikeouts in a game with a masterful performance against the lowly Pirates.
5. (Oct. 11, 2012) Jayson Werth’s walk-off homer in Game 4 of the NLDS
Before the Nationals’ 2019 postseason run, there was one playoff moment that stood above the rest.
That was Jayson Werth’s walk-off home run in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS, when the right fielder battled through a 13-pitch at-bat before saving the Nationals’ season with a solo homer into the visitor’s bullpen.
Washington was eliminated by the Cardinals a day later, but the moment proved to be Werth’s biggest during his seven years in D.C.
4. (Oct. 1, 2019) Juan Soto’s go-ahead single off Josh Hader in the 2019 Wild Card Game
The Nationals’ improbable World Series run began in the Wild Card Game, where the Brewers looked ready to finish Washington off up 3-1 in the eighth with the best reliever in baseball on the mound.
But Josh Hader faltered, and Juan Soto came to the plate with the bases loaded.
He hit a single to right that got by Trent Grisham, and although Soto was tagged out on the basepaths, the bases were cleared and Washington had a 4-3 lead.
3. (Oct. 9, 2019) Howie Kendrick’s extra-inning grand slam in Game 5 of 2019 NLDS
As important as Juan Soto’s hit in the Wild Card Game was to the Nationals, there was still an important hurdle to clear: winning a postseason series.
That was the only way the Nationals’ season would be considered a success, and Howie Kendrick delivered in a way only he could.
The back-to-back home runs Anthony Rendon and Soto hit off Clayton Kershaw earlier in the game were important, but nothing could compare to the pure relief D.C. felt when the ball off Kendrick’s bat sailed over Joc Pederson’s head.
2. (Oct. 30, 2019) Howie Kendrick’s foul-pole home run in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series
Speaking of Howie Kendrick, he wasn’t done delivering important postseason moments with that grand slam in Los Angeles.
In Houston, Kendrick came through once again with a go-ahead homer that clanked the right-field foul pole and made the dream of a Nationals championship a reality.
But as big as that hit was, it still couldn’t top the No. 1 moment…
1. (Oct. 30, 2019) Daniel Hudson’s slider to Michael Brantley to end Game 7 of the 2019 World Series
The final out of the World Series is one of the most iconic yearly moments in all of sports, as there’s something more significant than the final second of a clock ticking off.
In order to record that last out, the winning team has to beat the losing club one last time before it can win.
For the Nationals, that meant Daniel Hudson striking out Michael Brantley on a 3-2 pitch and firing his glove into oblivion before celebrating the fight finally being finished.