It’s actually hard to believe.
As Adam LaRoche tagged from third and raced home, his slide into beating the throw from left field to hand Washington a 3-2 victory Tuesday night, it was the first time the Nationals had recorded a walk-off win since Jayson Werth’s mammoth home run in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS.
Of course, there was some symmetry to the fact that Werth was back in the dugout for his first game after over a month on the shelf. And though he was not personally a factor in the ninth-inning rally that turned what was looking like a gloomy, 2-1 defeat into a rousing, 3-2 win, there he was on the top step of the dugout, cheering and encouraging teammates.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in this team,” said Werth in the clubhouse after the big emotional victory. “It’s time to get going.”
To that point in the game, the only run had come via an Ian Desmond solo home run in the fourth. Otherwise, their best scoring chance came with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth.
Until Tuesday night, Washington had only notched two ninth-inning runs in 57 games. The Nationals had to buck that trend as well to keep from wasting another brilliant start from Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed just a pair of unearned runs over eight strong innings. They did so, just in the nick of time.
“I was out of breath,” said Steve Lombardozzi of the celebratory dog pile on the field for his first Major League walk-off. “I think I blacked out for a little bit there.”
Fans who followed the Nationals closely last year may have felt the same way. For a moment, the excitement, the passion, the energy that the 2013 edition of the squad has been looking to rekindle could be seen flowing through the huddle out in front of home plate.
The team was looking for a spark. They got it when they needed it most, at the last possible moment Tuesday night. Now it’s time to build a fire.