A day of celebration

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by Mike Feigen

For 20 teams throughout the major leagues, the day after the conclusion of the regular season is often a time for reflection, a chance to digest a year of ups and downs, of wins and losses, of hopes dashed and chances blown. For 10 others, it is an opportunity to look forward to the postseason, to dream of a magical championship run yet to be scripted.

The Washington Nationals are one of those fortunate 10 — but the looking forward part can wait, at least for one day.

Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, a picturesque afternoon in the nation’s capital, brought a sense of history to a town built upon extraordinary achievements. Jordan Zimmermann, the stoic leader of a dominant pitching staff, entered Game No. 162 of the regular season looking to log a few innings of work as a tune-up for the playoffs.

Instead, he threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history.

the Washington Nationals playt the Miami MarlinsZimmermann, 28 years old with the number 27 on his back, turned in a performance worthy of the history books. The right-hander struck out 10 Miami Marlins, walked just one and needed just 104 pitches to complete his effort. He became the third D.C.-based hurler to record a no-hitter, following in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Walter Johnson (July 1, 1920) and the less-heralded Bobby Burke (Aug. 8, 1931).

He also needed help from his defense.

Rookie outfielder Steven Souza Jr., inserted by manager Matt Williams into left field in the top of the ninth inning with the Nationals still clinging to a 1-0 lead, made one of the finest game-ending catches in Nationals history. The 6-foot-4, 224-pound thoroughbred reacted quickly as Marlins leadoff hitter Christian Yelich drove a 2-1 fastball deep toward the gap in left-center, turning and galloping back and to his left as the ball hurtled through the air. Gaining ground on the deep liner, Souza Jr. left his feet, glove on his left hand outstretched, his open right hand ready to protect the ball, his body nearly horizontal to the ground.

The crowd of 35,085, standing and roaring throughout the final inning, briefly fell silent. Zimmermann, whose head dropped upon contact, turned to watch the final few feet of the flight of the ball — and the final few feet of Souza Jr.’s leap.

Then, bedlam.

Zimmermann raised both arms high, Souza Jr. raised his glove in the air, ball secure in its webbing, as teammates rushed toward the center of the diamond. For a surreal 30 seconds, Nationals Park became a deafeningly loud sea of high-fives, with families sharing memories and strangers hugging red-clad strangers, beneath the canopy of a perfect, blue, late-September sky.

It was an immaculate ending. It could be a beautiful beginning. October awaits.

Signature Moments: NAT10NALS — August 12-21

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During the marathon of a 162-game baseball season, there are thrilling moments that highlight the successes of every club, from the front runner to the cellar dweller. The 2014 Washington Nationals are no exception, as they have sparked excitement throughout The District while returning to postseason play for the second time in three years.

Beginning with a three-game sweep of the Mets in New York and concluding with seven straight home wins over the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks, the Nationals went on a 10-game winning streak for the ages. The streak included a remarkable seven one-run victories, including five walk-offs in a six-day span. Collectively, the 10 victories easily made our list for the top “Signature Moments” of 2014.

NAT10NALS | 8.12–8.21

 

With victories in 10 straight games, including five walk-offs in six days, the Nationals took complete control of the National League East.

Signature Moments: Bryce’s Blast — August 7

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During the marathon of a 162-game baseball season, there are thrilling moments that highlight the successes of every club, from the front runner to the cellar dweller. The 2014 Washington Nationals are no exception, as they have sparked excitement throughout The District while returning to postseason play for the second time in three years.

Bryce Harper’s 2014 season was an up-and-down affair, as the third-year outfielder suffered a thumb injury in late April and missed two months of action. When he returned to the lineup, his teammates caught fire, but Harper was still searching for his swing entering the final game of a three-game series against the New York Mets. In the bottom of the 13th inning of that Aug. 7 contest, Harper crushed a fastball into the left-field seats, breaking his slump and jumpstarting his production at the plate, while certainly providing one of the “Signature Moments” of the 2014 campaign.

BRYCE’S BLAST | 8.7

 

Bryce Harper’s walk-off home run sparked a big stretch run from the Nationals’ left fielder.

Signature Moments: Summer of Span — June 28 – August 10

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During the marathon of a 162-game baseball season, there are thrilling moments that highlight the successes of every club, from the front runner to the cellar dweller. The 2014 Washington Nationals are no exception, as they have sparked excitement throughout The District while returning to postseason play for the second time in three years.

Denard Span’s 36-game on-base streak, coinciding with some of the Nationals’ best baseball of the year, stands out as one of those nine “Signature Moments” from the regular season.

Span hit .396 (57-for-144) with a .463 on-base percentage, 25 runs scored and 10 stolen bases during the streak, which included 17 multi-hit games. The streak elevated his batting average from .264 to .306 over the 36 games, the top mark on the team, and he continued his stellar play even when the exceptional streak came to an end.

 SUMMER OF SPAN | 6.28–8.10

 

Denard Span’s 36-game on-base streak helped take the Nationals’ offense to new heights.

Signature Moments: Command Performance — June 21

Twitter: @Nationals | Facebook: Nationals | Instagram: @Nationals

During the marathon of a 162-game baseball season, there are thrilling moments that highlight the successes of every club, from the front runner to the cellar dweller. The 2014 Washington Nationals are no exception, as they have sparked excitement throughout The District while returning to postseason play for the second time in three years.

Inside the Nationals’ clubhouse, multiple members of the team cited June 21 as one of the days the Nationals likely began to turn the tide in the National League East race.

At 37-35, in second place in the division — and with losses in six out of their seven games against the Atlanta Braves — the Nats turned to the newest member of their rotation: Doug Fister. In front of more than 40,000 fans and a FOX national TV audience, the 6-foot-8 righty shut down Atlanta, sparking Washington to a record of 56-30 from that point on. The commanding win easily earned Fister one of our nine “Signature Moments” of the 2014 campaign.

COMMAND PERFORMANCE | 6.21

 

With the Nationals in need of a commanding performance, Doug Fister stymied the Atlanta Braves in a dominant shutout win on national television.

Signature Moments: Out of Left Field — June 11 & 24

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During the marathon of a 162-game baseball season, there are thrilling moments that highlight the successes of every club, from the front runner to the cellar dweller. The 2014 Washington Nationals are no exception, as they have sparked excitement throughout The District while returning to postseason play for the second time in three years.

Over the course of the regular season, though there were so many great moments, nine “Signature Moments” stood out above the rest — but only one set of defensive plays made our list.

Those feats of glove work were turned in by a novice outfielder, though someone who is no stranger to playing the hero: third baseman turned left fielder, the original Face of the Franchise, Ryan Zimmerman. His diving plays in San Francisco and Milwaukee helped the Nationals survive a tough stretch in the schedule when the club was without regular starters Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos, and win a few games to boot.

OUT OF LEFT FIELD | 6.11 & 6.24

Ryan Zimmerman flashed some amazing leather in left field, helping the Nationals win a pair of big road contests.

Signature Moments: Supporting Roles — May 12

Twitter: @Nationals | Facebook: Nationals | Instagram: @Nationals

During the marathon of a 162-game baseball season, there are thrilling moments that highlight the successes of every club, from the front runner to the cellar dweller. The 2014 Washington Nationals are no exception, as they have sparked excitement throughout The District while returning to postseason play for the second time in three years.

Over the course of the regular season, though there were so many great moments, nine “Signature Moments” stood out above the rest — including a Monday evening in May that followed a sweep at the hands of the Oakland Athletics.

Trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks by a run entering the top of the ninth inning — and missing Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman to injuries — the Nationals powered their way to an improbable win to stay above the .500 mark on the season.

Check out our second Signature Moment of the 2014 season:

SUPPORTING ROLES | 5.12

 

Danny Espinosa and Kevin Frandsen played the heroes in a comeback victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Nationals Game Notes — Sept. 23 vs. New York Mets

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Game No. 156: Washington Nationals (91-64) vs. New York Mets (76-80) | 7:05 p.m. ET | Nationals Park
Pitching Match-Up: RHP Tanner Roark (14-10, 2.85 ERA) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (14-12, 4.02)
Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark is 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA in four career starts against the Mets, and worked 3.1 innings of one-run relief in his lone bullpen appearance on Aug. 31, 2013.
Radio: 106.7 FM / 1500 AM  and also on nationals.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv)
TV: Today’s game will be televised on MASN2
Live Statsnationals.com

Of note:

  • The Nationals currently own the National League’s top record and pace the NL East by a season-high 15.5 games over the Atlanta Braves. In the race for the NL’s top record, two clubs are within striking distance of the Nationals (91-64, .587): the Dodgers (-3.0) & Cardinals (-4.0). The Nationals’ magic number to clinch home field advantage through the NLDS & NLCS is three entering play on Tuesday night.

Here are the lineups for today’s match-up:

NATIONALS (91-64)

2 Denard Span (L) CF
3 Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 2B
28 Jayson Werth RF
25 Adam LaRoche (L) 1B
20 Ian Desmond SS
34 Bryce Harper (L) LF
40 Wilson Ramos C
19 Kevin Frandsen 3B
57 Tanner Roark RHP

METS (76-80)

6 Matt den Dekker (L) RF
28 Daniel Murphy (L) 3B
15 Travis d’Arnaud C
21 Lucas Duda (L) 1B
4 Wilmer Flores 2B
3 Curtis Granderson (L)
9 Kirk Nieuwenhuis (L) CF
11 Ruben Tejada SS
40 Bartolo Colon RHP

Here are today’s game notes, courtesy of the Washington Nationals PR department. Enjoy!

Signature Moments: Cardiac Nats — March 31

Twitter: @Nationals | Facebook: Nationals | Instagram: @Nationals

During the marathon of a 162-game baseball season, there are thrilling moments that highlight the successes of every club. The 2014 Washington Nationals are no exception, as they have sparked excitement throughout The District while returning to postseason play for the second time in three years.

Over the course of the regular season, though there were so many great moments, nine “Signature Moments” stood out above the rest — from Opening Day until the day the Nationals clinched the NL East in Atlanta.

Before the National League Division Series begins in earnest on October 3, we will chronicle those Signature Moments here on Curly W Live — fittingly beginning with the Nationals’ first victory of the 2014 season. Enjoy!

CARDIAC NATS | 3.31

The Nationals, led by Denard Span and Anthony Rendon, used a late rally to defeat the Mets on Opening Day in New York.

Nationals reinstate Ryan Zimmerman

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by Amanda Comak

With the National League East Championship celebration in their rearview, and the promise of the postseason still ahead, the Washington Nationals became whole again on Saturday as they reinstated Ryan Zimmerman from the 15-Day Disabled List and returned him to their active roster.

Zimmerman, 29, rejoins the Nationals after missing 55 games with a right hamstring strain, suffered July 22 at Colorado.

And while the Nationals have done well to fill his void in the interim, Zimmerman’s return helps deepen their already dangerous lineup as they turn their focus toward the playoffs.

In 53 games this season, Zimmerman has hit .282 with a .345 on-base percentage and a .456 slugging percentage. While spending time at third base, first base and in left field, the Nationals’ veteran has clubbed 24 extra-base hits (five home runs) and driven in 36 runs.

This was the second Disabled List stint of the season for Zimmerman. After returning from a fractured right thumb on June 3, Zimmerman started 43 games for the Nationals, including a scorching hot month of July in which he hit .362 with a .418 on-base percentage and a .569 slugging percentage before his hamstring injury.

Zimmerman’s return gives the Nationals 35 players on their active roster, and Nationals manager Matt Williams said he expects Zimmerman to play all three positions in the season’s final eight games in preparation for the postseason.

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