I was there for Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series, camera up and ready to capture Drew Storen throwing the division-winning strike that never came.
Two years later I was in the stands when rookie manager Matt Williams walked to the mound in the top of the 9th. There stood Jordan Zimmermann, just one out away from completing two of the most amazing back-to-back games with a potential win in Game 2 of the 2014 National League Division Series following his no-hitter to end the season. Only Williams never gives him the chance. Williams pulls Zimm from the game and puts in . . . yes . . . Drew Storen. Who in this instance quickly gave up two hits and one run and the Nats went on to lose the game in an excruciating 18 innings.
So the bottom of the 8th and the top of the 9th in last night’s National League Wild Card game was the chance for the Washington Nationals to bury old demons and set a new narrative. It was a chance to finally win a “win or go home” game in the playoffs.
And they won!
Even though they are far from perfect, these Nats are such fun to watch and the Nationals fans are responding. The energy of the 42,993 who were in the park was evident, and it really came to the fore in the 8th. You can read about the sequence of events in Thomas Boswell’s column. Suffice it to say that 20-year-old Juan Soto’s sharp single against one of the most feared relievers in the game with two outs and the bases loaded, coupled with an error by a rookie right fielder for the Brewers, cleared the bases and gave the Nats the lead. But the top of the 9th still loomed, and for some of us the Drew Storen-factor made it emotionally exhausting. Thankfully, Daniel Hudson came in to finish up a strong relief effort by Stephen Strasburg. Except for one single, Hudson shut down the Brewers and—blessedly—did it pretty quickly and effectively.
I haven’t raised my expectations for how the Nats—Dodgers series will turn out, but thankfully my expectations for what happens next are not tied to my happiness.
After last night, I’m very happy!
More to come…