Top 12 of ‘12: #9 – Desmond’s Dunk
When you win 98 games and go almost wire-to-wire to take the division crown, the season doesn’t have too many turning points. However, in the midst of a season-long five-game slide, the Nationals looked as vulnerable as they had all year, trailing Arizona 4-3 at home on May 2 with Bryce Harper at second base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Ian Desmond, who entered the game with just seven extra-base hits and a .260/.294/.375 line through his first 22 games, stood in as Washington’s final chance against D-backs closer J.J. Putz, who had shut the door for 45 saves the year prior.
With a nervous crowd clinging to hope, Putz delivered a 93 mile-per-hour, belt-high fastball in a 1-1 count and Desmond turned on it, sending it towards left-center field. Despite the cold, spring night, the ball carried deep towards the visiting bullpen. Just as center fielder Gerardo Parra and left fielder Jason Kubel converged at the 377 mark, the ball disappeared over the wall for a walk-off, two-run home run. The Nationals would go 84-55 from that night forward, and Desmond would go on to post a .300/.344/.542 line with 28 doubles and 23 home runs in his final 108 games, earning the first All-Star bid and Silver Slugger Award of his young career.