We are counting down the 10 biggest moments of 2015 for the Nationals as we approach New Year's Day. In the fifth installment, we look back at the Nationals' early September series against the New York Mets...
The Nationals' 2015 season was defined mostly by missed opportunities and no part of their schedule more exemplified that than their early-September series against the New York Mets.
Left for dead in the NL East in August, the Nats charged back by winning 11 of 15 games before the Mets came to town on Sept. 7. The Mets had lost five of their previous nine, as the Nats cut the deficit in the NL East to just four games. Presented to the Nationals was a chance to gain some serious ground in the division. A sweep would cut the lead to one game with 23 total left on their schedule.
The Nationals also had their pitching staff aligned with Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg set to face the Mets. Scherzer, their ace, got the ball for the opener and quickly found trouble. He gave up two runs in the second inning and five total through six. That was enough to equalize a five-run fourth inning for the Nationals, who then saw relievers Blake Treinen, Felipe Rivero and Casey Janssen all allow runs in an eventual 8-5 loss.
Game 2 of that series also saw the Nationals take an early lead. They went up 2-0 in the first inning off Matt Harvey and led 7-1 after six in large part due to a Little League grand slam hit by Michael Taylor. Yoenis Cespedes misplayed a ball in center field and the Mets paid for it big time.
One inning later, however, and the Mets would get it all back with six runs in one frame. Treinen, Rivero and Drew Storen combined for that disaster with Storen completely losing control of the strike zone. He issued a bases-clearing double to Cespedes, then followed with a wild pitch and three walks, the third to allow another run.
Storen obviously did not have it that night, yet manager Matt Williams continued to let him pitch in what ended an 8-7 loss. Williams would go back to Storen the following night, again to face Cespedes, only to provide one of the lowest moments for the Nats in their entire 2015 season.
Storen relieved Strasburg in the series finale after Strasburg had given up the tying run on a Kelly Johnson homer in the eighth inning. Williams brought Storen in to face Cespedes, who watched one pitch sail way out of the zone for a ball before demolishing a two-run bomb to left-center field. That put the Mets up 4-2, as they went on to win 5-3 and complete the sweep. The Nats left the ballpark that night down seven games in the division and with little hope of saving their season.
That night Storen broke his thumb while shutting the door of his locker. Just like the Nationals, his season had gone from bad to worse. And just as his season ended, the Nationals' hopes for 2015 ended as well. They had one final chance, but they couldn't take advantage and make something of what ultimately goes down as a lost year.
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