Turning Back The Clock
*** UPDATE: Watch the video highlights at the end of the article ***
The Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants turned back the clock in more ways than one on Thursday evening at Nationals Park. Donning the 1924-style uniforms of the old Washington Senators and New York Giants, they celebrated old traditions like standing together on the field during the National Anthem, only organ music on the public address system, and a green, metallic looking scoreboard graphic made to replicate the classic manual boards of the sport’s cathedrals, like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.
The game itself turned out to be a throwback as well. Through the first six-and-a-half frames, the Giants rapped out 14 hits, but 11 of them singles and not a home run among them, their lead sitting at just 5-1 despite threatening nearly every inning. That’s when the Nationals finally made them pay for their inability to put the game away. Giants manager Bruce Bochy ran his ace, Matt Cain, back out for a seventh inning of work on a stiflingly hot night at Nationals Park, and the plan backfired. Ian Desmond powered an opposite field homer to right, and Danny Espinosa went back-to-back for the Nats, following with a shot of his own to center. The rally continued with two outs, as Bryce Harper overcame a tough call on a check swing to deliver a double that cut the margin to 5-4.
And with that, the crowd came alive. The buzz in the ballpark was different. Harper himself said after the game that when Desmond homered, Harper turned to Adam LaRoche and declared the Nationals would win the game. Following a scoreless eighth for both clubs and a dominant top of the ninth for Tyler Clippard, the Nats were left in the position of sending three rookies to face San Francisco closer Santiago Casilla needing one run to stay alive and two to win.
Yep, the Nats are going to the playoffs.—
Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 06, 2012
After falling behind 0-2, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore opened the frame with a bullet to the wall in left-center for a double. Steve Lombardozzi followed with a sacrifice bunt that Casilla could not come up with cleanly, and just like that there were runners at the corners with none out for Harper. After working the count to 3-1, the 19 year-old – who earlier in the day had finished behind Cardinals third baseman David Freese in the All-Star Game Final Vote – ripped a single through the hole on the right side, tying the game.
Nationals Park erupted. Three batters later, when Harper crossed home plate with the winning run after the Giants failed to convert the back end of a double play in a futile attempt to force extra innings, it erupted again. Single games are just that – only one contest of many in a season. But there are those, both wins and losses, that stand out above the rest. This was one of those wins, and everyone in attendance knew it.
It was only fitting that the Nationals won on a walk-off, just as the Senators did over the New York Giants in the dramatic 1924 World Series that the night was commemorating. Throughout the contest, there were recaps on the PA and videoboard between innings of each game, as the Senators fell behind three-games-to-two before coming back to win games six, seven, and the series in dramatic fashion.
Just got home from @Nationals Park. People were still fired up the entire Metro ride home. Safe to say that DC is in love with this team.—
Rachele Byrne (@RacheleByrne) July 06, 2012