Top 12 of ‘12: #8 – Teenage Dream
After splitting a rain-shortened, two-game set with Atlanta to open the month of June, the Nationals sat in a three-way tie for first place atop the NL East with one of their fellow front-runners, the New York Mets, coming to town. In the first game of that series, Washington built an early lead, only to watch the Mets surge ahead 4-3 in the eighth inning. But Ian Desmond rose to the challenge, tying the score in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI-single. Then he stepped up again in both the 10th and 12th innings, following New York scores with RBI on an error and a double, respectively. With the game tied at 6-6 and two outs in the bottom of the 12th, rookie Bryce Harper – in just his 33rd Major League game – stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.
After falling behind in the count 0-2, Harper fished a low fastball from Elvin Ramirez and flipped it to left field on a sinking line in front of Vinny Rottino. The ball had just enough top spin to fall to the turf before Rottino could snag it on his dive. As he rounded first, Harper became the first teenage owner of a Major League walk-off hit since Gary Sheffield in 1988, more than four years before Harper’s own birth. More importantly for the Nationals, they would never again forfeit their outright division lead, riding an NL-best 68-42 record the rest of the way to their first-ever division title.