This season has been like no other. Coming back from being the third-worst team in the MLB to a serious playoff contender, the Washington Nationals have been a thrilling team to watch. Though it was hard to cut down so many great moments into such a shortlist, these are the five most memorable moments of the Nationals 2019 season.
5. Gerardo Parra Hits His First Home Run as a National
On May 11, Baby Shark was born. Just two days after signing with the team, Gerardo Parra hit his first home run as a Nat en route to a 5–2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Parra was responsible for four of the five runs with an eighth-inning grand slam off of reliever Dylan Floro to lead the Nats to victory.
Since joining the Nats this season, Parra has hit six home runs with 31 RBI and 16 extra-base hits. But his clubhouse impact was far more important to the team than his offense. Throughout his career, Parra has been known as the guy who could liven up the clubhouse and boost morale, which is exactly what he’s done on the Nats. With his homerun dances and Baby Shark walkup song, there’s no coincidence the Nats have excelled since Parra joined the roster and became a fan favorite.
4. The Washington Nationals Go Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Against the Padres
One of the rarest feats any team can achieve is to hit home runs in a row. In fact, there have only been nine back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in Major League history. The last time a team accomplished that before the Nats faced the Padres on June 9 was in 2017 when the Nats smashed four straight homers against the Milwaukee Brewers in a 15–2 victory at home.
The 2019 Nats four home run spree started with Howie Kendrick’s 421-foot pinch-hit grand slam, followed by homers from Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, and Anthony Rendon. All four were hit off of former Nat, Craig Stammen, who last played for the team in 2015. The 5–2 victory marked the Nationals 12th win in 16 games and improved them to 30-35 on the year.
3. Nats Have the Best Record in Baseball Since May 24
When tuning in to any Nats game, you will hear commentators talking about one specific date — May 24. With a 12–10 win over the Miami Marlins, the Nationals started the streak of being the best team in baseball over the course of the season. Since then, the Nats have been 50–32, which leaves them as the best team in baseball over that time, as of Sept. 10.
Much of this success has come from General Manager Mike Rizzo’s ability to make mid-season moves. Acquiring players like Parra and Asdrubal Cabrera through free agency has been a huge boost to the offense, while trade deadline acquisitions Hunter Strickland and Daniel Hudson have been lights out in relief.
2. Black-Eyed Scherzer K’s 10
After suffering a broken nose while attempting to bunt in batting practice, Max Scherzer emphatically shut down the Philadelphia Phillies with seven innings pitched, 10 strikeouts, and only allowing four hits. The win put him up to 6–5 on the season and lowered his ERA to just 2.62.
The clubs’ all-time best pitcher is known for his intensity and poise on the mound, but his black eye took his intimidation factor to a whole new level.
1. Kurt Suzuki Walks Off the Nats to Cap Off a Six Run Comeback Victory
After Pete Alonso’s two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the New York Mets a 10-4 lead, many Nats fans had given up hope. According to ESPN’s win probability tracker, the Mets had a 99% chance of winning the game. The Nats weren’t done though. Trea Turner started the rally with a one-out RBI double to score Victor Robles. Turner advanced to third on an Asdrubal Cabrera single, setting up Anthony Rendon made the score 10-6 with an RBI single.
Following the single, Mets manager Mickey Callaway decided to pull reliever Paul Sewald and bring in lefty specialist Luis Avilan to face Juan Soto. Soto was able to fight off a single to load the bases for veteran hitter Ryan Zimmerman.
Callaway decided enough was enough and put in struggling closer Edwin Diaz to finish off the final two outs. Zimmerman proceeded to take Diaz’s second pitch deep to right field to score two and setup veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki in a great position to tie the game. With runners on second and third and only one out, Suzuki and Diaz battled through the whole at-bat. Suzuki was able to get ahead and put himself in a three-ball one-strike count. Diaz then proceeded to battle back and make it a 3–2 count. After two straight foul balls, Suzuki took a 100 mph fastball deep into the left-field bleachers, capping off the Nats’ biggest comeback of the season against one of their biggest rivals.
The walk-off put the Nats 19 games above .500 at 78-59 and finished off the best streak of the season — winning 10 of their last 12 games and solidifying themselves as the number one wildcard team.
It’s safe to say that this has been quite an eventful season for the Nats and their fans. Every game seemed to have a memorable moment, whether it’s a starter striking out 10, Anthony Rendon having another multi-RBI game or the bullpen blowing a lead. Even if they don’t end up winning the division, or even a playoff game, Nats fans have been spoiled with fun and entertaining baseball throughout the entire season.