NATITUDE Weekend: Night 1
It may not have been a perfect Hollywood ending, but it was as good as it gets for the folks in D.C. on Friday night. With the rival Philadelphia Phillies in town for the first of three defining games between the two franchises, the pressure to get a series–opening win, especially with ace Stephen Strasburg on the hill – was enormous. And while things didn’t start all that well, they ended just fine, as they have seemed to do quite often for the Nationals so far this young season.
Washington battled back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 to tie the game at three in the eighth and eventually force extra innings. Wilson Ramos would ultimately play the hero, capping a two-out, 11th-inning rally with a line single up the middle to score Steve Lombardozzi and send the fans into that familiar frenzy to which they have grown accustomed over the season’s first month.
Sure, a Bryce Harper game-winner would have really brought the house down. The chants from the crowd, far more boisterous than your average game, would have been heard from across the Anacostia. But it was perhaps more fitting that it came from Ramos, the last man available on Davey Johnson’s bench.
The Phillies are somewhat short-handed, missing their starting first and second basemen in Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. But the Nationals are making due without their top two offensive threats from last year, with Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse both on the Disabled List. As such, the matchups between these teams become more a test of depth than of star-power, right down to the last name that hasn’t been scratched out yet on the lineup card.
Tonight, that was Ramos. And as so many Nationals have done already, he delivered when his team needed him most. The walk-off Curly W marked Washington’s fifth in just 14 home games, and the fourth to come in extra innings. The Nationals improved to a National League East-best 17-9 on the season and 11-3 at home with the victory.
It will be a quick turnaround to Saturday’s 1:05pm start, but the atmosphere should be electric once again. With the largest anticipated crowd of the series, expect another boisterous day of baseball at Nationals Park.