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Nationals vs. Cardinals: A seven-game 2019 regular season history lesson

Nationals vs. Cardinals: A seven-game 2019 regular season history lesson

After Howie Kendrick's historic 10th inning grand slam, the Nationals have won their first postseason series ever and advance to the NLCS to face the St. Louis Cardinals.

The birds just topped the Atlanta Braves in five games, but the Nationals have a storied history with St. Louis within their few postseason stories to tell. In what might as well be referred to as the game that shall not be named, the Cardinals posted the largest comeback ever in an elimination playoff game against the Nats in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS. There are quite a few players -- and of course fans -- who were part of that game for both teams seven years ago. This could add fuel to the Nationals fire and desire to go further than they've ever been before.

With that in mind, it's time to get back to 2019 and take another look at how the two teams dueled this year.

1. Game 28: Washington (12-15) vs. St. Louis (18-10). Monday, April 29

Result: Cardinals win 6-3

Season series: Cardinals lead 1-0

How it Happened: Coming off two back-to-back daytime extra innings performances (one loss and win), the Nationals were tired. Washington got out early by putting up three in the third inning but failed to respond when Harrison Bader’s home run triggered a plethora of runs scored by St. Louis in the fifth inning. Corbin gave up six hits over five innings; Miller, Suero and Grace each gave up one. 

2. Game 29: Washington (12-16) vs St. Louis (19-10). Tuesday, April 30

Result: Cardinals win 3-2

Season series: Cardinals lead 2-0

How it Happened: Wainwright locked it down for the Cardinals, only letting two score through seven innings pitched via Eaton and Robles home runs in the third inning. St. Louis immediately responded in the third, toppled Washington for the lead, and nobody reached home again that Tuesday evening.

3. Game 30: Washington (12-18) vs St. Louis (20-10). Wednesday, May 1

Result: Cardinals win 5-1

Season series: Cardinals lead 3-0

How it Happened: Scherzer tallied his fourth loss of the season with three earned runs in the first inning. The Nationals only managed to bring one home against Mikolas on a fielder’s choice, handing the Cardinals their fifth straight win.

4. Game 31: Washington (12-19) vs St. Louis (21-10). Thursday, May 2

Result: Nationals win 2-1

Season series: Cardinals lead 3-1

How it Happened: The Nationals finally get everything together to muster a win in front of the home crowd to end this brutal series. In this game, Stephen Strasburg became the fastest pitcher in league history to reach 1,500 strikeouts with the nine he tallied over 6.2 innings pitched Thursday. After an RBI single in the third, the Nationals retake the lead by one in the fourth inning and never look back, anxious for victory.

5. Game 149: Washington (82-67) vs St. Louis (84-66). Monday, September 16

Result: Cardinals win 4-2

Season series: Cardinals lead 4-1

How it Happened: Marcell Ozuna dominated this game in St. Louis with four RBIs and even threw out Cabrera at home after Zimmerman scored on Robles’ single to put the Nationals on board. Anthony Rendon efforted a solo homer to tie it up, but Ozuna powered Fowler and Goldschmidt home to take the lead and game, handing the loss to Doolittle. The Nationals were 10 games back after losing to the NL Central king Cardinals.

6. Game 150: Washington (83-67) vs St. Louis (84-67). Tuesday, September 17

Result: Nationals win 6-2

Season series: Cardinals lead 4-2

How it Happened: This is the last win the Nationals had over the Cardinals, thanks to strong pitching and Howie Kendrick’s hot bat. Kendrick was a triple shy of the cycle, and St. Louis failed to tack on any earned runs on Corbin for an unreal 6.0

7. Game 151: Washington (84-67) vs St. Louis (84-68). Wednesday, September 18

Result: Cardinals win 5-1

Season series: Cardinals lead 5-2

How it Happened: The Cardinals had officially led the NL Central for one month at this point. In arguably Scherzer’s worst outing of the regular season this year, Mad Max mustered 11 strikeouts but five earned runs over 6.2 innings pitched. Wainwright almost silenced the Nationals had it not been for Trea Turner’s RBI double in the seventh. 

The Nationals take on the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLCS Friday, Oct. 11 at 8:08 p.m. on TBS.

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Juan Soto greets Nationals fans while dressed as Santa Claus

Juan Soto greets Nationals fans while dressed as Santa Claus

The winter can feel like one of the slowest seasons of the year, especially for baseball fans who long for the season to pick back up again.

But Nationals outfielder Juan Soto met with fans on Saturday at a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia, and did his best to make them feel merry by getting in the holiday spirit.

Soto already helped give D.C. the greatest gift of all in a World Series title, so maybe he really is Mr. Claus.

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Nationals sign reliever Kyle Finnegan to major-league deal

Nationals sign reliever Kyle Finnegan to major-league deal

The Nationals announced their first move toward rebuilding their bullpen for the 2020 season Sunday, signing right-hander Kyle Finnegan to a major-league deal.

Finnegan, 28, became a free agent for the first time this winter after seven seasons in the Oakland Athletics’ minor-league system. The A’s drafted him in the sixth round of the 2013 Draft out of Texas State, originally developing him as a starter until converting him into a reliever in 2016.

Oakland granted Finnegan an invite to Spring Training ahead of last season, but he never made his way onto the team’s 40-man roster. His breakout season was in 2019, when the organization asked him to lower his arm slot to generate more movement on his pitches.

Finnegan posted a 2.66 ERA with 14 saves over 42 appearances for AA-Midland and AAA-Las Vegas last year. His fastball has touched triple digits in the past but sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. His newfound success has also seen him rack up more strikeouts, as evidenced by his K/9 that jumped from 9.7 in 2018 to 12.8 in 2019.

Prior to signing with Washington, Finnegan joined the Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League. He has a 2.31 ERA in 14 appearances so far this winter.

The Nationals’ 40-man roster now sits at 30 with the addition of Finnegan following non-tenders of Javy Guerra and Koda Glover. It will move up to 32 once the signings of Yan Gomes and Howie Kendrick are made official. The move comes less than 12 hours before the MLB Winter Meetings are scheduled to begin in San Diego.

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