Results tagged ‘ National League East ’

What to Watch For: 10/1

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Philadelphia Phillies (80-79) vs. Washington Nationals (96-63)

RHP Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.08) vs. LHP John Lannan (4-0, 4.23)

The Nationals return to D.C. for the final homestand of the regular season to face the division-rival Phillies, needing just one more win to secure their first-ever National League East title. John Lannan, who defeated Philadelphia on the road just five days ago, takes the hill against Kyle Kendrick in a rematch of that game’s starters.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

From manager Davey Johnson, who actually answered when he would like to play in the first round of the playoffs, despite being asked whom he would prefer to face:

“I’d like to play Sunday.”

The team that finishes the National League with the best record will open their NLDS series on Sunday rather than Saturday, as they await the Wild Card winner from Friday.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Lannan LHP

#HARPEROY

Bryce Harper is coming off a road trip in which he went 12-for-24 with six extra-base hits (2 2B, 3B, 3 HR), raising his batting average 11 points along the way. Harper has hit in seven straight games and needs just two home runs to tie Tony Conigliaro for most home runs ever by a teenager (24). 

LANNAN’S CANNON

Coming off a win in his last start, John Lannan takes to the hill against the Phillies for the second time in five days. Including his win last Wednesday at Philadelphia, Lannan has won his last two starts against the Phillies, after going 1-12 in first 15 career starts against Philadelphia.

GET YOUR PHIL

One year ago today (Oct. 1, 2011), the third-place Nationals trailed the first-place Phillies in the NL East final standings by 21.5 games. This year, the two clubs have swapped spots in the standings as Washington holds a 16.0-game advantage over the third-place Phillies. Washington is 14-10 against the Phillies since Davey Johnson became manager, including a 4-1 mark in one-run games. Before going 10-8 against the Phillies in ‘11, the Nationals/Expos had won only two season series from PHI the previous 14 years.

DATE IN DC BASEBALL

October 1, 1924: The District celebrates the Senators, as a crowd of 100,000 lines Pennsylvania Avenue to greet the American League champions in a victory parade. The team visits President Calvin Coolidge, who promises he’ll attend Game One of the World Series against the Giants, at the White House.

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. CARDINALS LIVE -

What to Watch For: 9/30

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Washington Nationals (96-62) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (85-73)

LHP Ross Detwiler (10-7, 3.28) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (17-7, 3.69)

With their extra-inning victory Saturday night, the Nationals inched within a single win or Atlanta loss of clinching the National League East. They look to do so – and to win the series against the Cardinals – this afternoon with St. Louis native Ross Detwiler on the hill, pitching in his hometown as a Major Leaguer for the first time.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

From catcher Kurt Suzuki, on his two-out, two-run, game-winning hit in the 10th inning following an intentional walk to Danny Espinosa:

“You want to be in those situations…you want to go up there and make them pay.”

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Morse LF

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Detwiler LHP

THE NEXT MAGIC MOMENT

Having clinched a spot in MLB’s postseason, the Nationals now turn their attention to winning the NL East…Washington’s magic number to clinch the NL East is ONE game.

OCTOBER BASEBALL

The Nationals – via a 4-1 home win over Los Angeles on September 20 – have assured The Nation’s Capital of its first postseason October baseball since the 1933 AL Nationals lost a five-game World Series to the Giants. Those AL Nationals also won AL pennants in 1924 (World Champions) and ‘25. This mark’s the second post-season trip for the franchise, as Montreal lost to the Dodgers in the five-game ‘81 NLCS.

96 CURLY W’s IN THE BOOKS

With four games remaining, Washington has already established a franchise best with 96 wins and needs three wins to match the best mark by a D.C.-based team (‘33 Senators). The Nationals are the first ballclub from the Nation’s Capital to eclipse the 90-win plateau in 79 years or since the pennant-winning 99-win ‘33 AL Nationals. This is the ninth 90-win campaign posted by a D.C. baseball team…from 1913-33, the AL Nationals posted eight 90-win seasons: 1933 (99 wins), 1925 (96), 1930 (94), 1932 (93), 1931 (92), 1924 (92), 1912 (91), 1913 (90).

- FOLLOW NATIONALS VS. CARDINALS LIVE -

Two Swings, One Number

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Baseball is a sport of routines, of countless situations played over and over again. It is a game that, more often than not, rewards those teams that are able to consistently take advantage of the opportunities afforded them to score runs and win games. However, one of the greatest parts about baseball is the likelihood of seeing something you’ve never seen before in each and every game. There are so many different ways for any given situation to unfold that no two games would ever play out exactly alike, even if – by some miracle – the box scores looked identical.

This anachronism played true to form on Saturday night, when the Nationals needed just two swings to take control of their fate, beating the host Cardinals in 10 innings to lower their NL East magic number to one. The first swing happened with no bat and no ball, and was a first for everyone in the ballpark, no matter how much baseball their eyes had seen. Michael Morse stepped into the box with the bases loaded and drove a ball the other way, clearing the right-field wall before caroming off the electronic billboard behind it and back into play. Initially ruled a single on the field, confusion reigned among the Nationals runners on the base paths, with Morse eventually being tagged out sliding back into first. Following a review, the umpires determined correctly that the ball had in fact cleared the wall for a grand slam.

Home runs have been overturned before in baseball since the advent of replay, but none have played out quite the way this one did. Morse, who had stayed at first base during the review, began running the bases when home plate umpire Cory Blaser gave the home run signal. However, he was ordered to go back to the base where he started when the play began. Initially he circled back around second to first, but was eventually sent back to home plate, with Bryce Harper – who began the play at third base and had been in the dugout for several minutes after scoring – summoned to return to the field as well. Upon arriving back at the batter’s box, Morse, not knowing what to do, took a phantom swing, then went into his home run trot, even tossing in his trademark helmet slap as he rounded the bases. Fittingly, a full moon rose from behind the outfield bleachers the next inning, looming over the spot where the ball had left the yard.

The Nationals would not score again until the 10th inning, after the Cardinals had come back to tie the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth. This time, they did so on a play that baseball lifers have seen time and time again, one that anyone who has been following the Nats closely down the stretch over the past few weeks could see coming a mile away. Adam LaRoche, who led the inning off with a single, stood at second base with two outs following a Roger Bernadina sacrifice bunt and an Ian Desmond fly out. With Danny Espinosa at the plate, Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny elected to intentionally walk Espinosa, rather than let his reliever, Fernando Salas, face him.

Kurt Suzuki’s clutch double brought the Nationals to the brink of history.

In theory, the move was a shrewd one. Espinosa had found success against Salas in the past. Perhaps he remembered Espinosa’s triple off Salas on April 20 last season. He almost certainly had images of Espinosa’s three-run, walk-off home run that Salas served up in Washington a couple months after that. Perhaps it was as simple as wanting a righty-righty matchup instead of letting a left-handed batter (or switch-hitter, batting left) beat him. But Kurt Suzuki has not been just any right-handed hitter of late.

Since August 25, the Nationals trade acquisition has batted .322 (29-for-90) with a .522 slugging percentage and 20 RBI in just 27 games. He has supported the “Kurt Klutch” nickname he earned at Cal State Fullerton, where his two-out, RBI-single in the bottom of the seventh inning led the Titans to a 3-2 victory and College World Series title in 2004.

While the intentional walk can serve many purposes in the game, a two-out intentional walk means only one thing from the opposing manager: “I’ll take my chances against you.” Better not to do so facing a guy with a “Klutch” nickname. Suzuki ripped a two-run double to the base of the fence in left-center, providing the decisive blow.

The culmination of the two swings have left the Nationals on the brink of their first-ever National League East title which they could wrap up as soon as today. They need a single win (or Atlanta loss) to make it official here, fittingly, on the home field of the defending World Series Champions.

All About the Matchups

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Whenever two good teams tangle for a series, the difference in the game often rides on the starting pitching matchups. Make no mistake – despite being eliminated from National League East contention last week and sitting on the brink of missing the postseason entirely, the Phillies are certainly a good team. Since bottoming out on July 13 at 37-51 following a 6-2 loss at Colorado, Philadelphia has gone 41-25. To put that in perspective, the Nationals are 43-27 over the same span, with the Braves coming in at 42-26 during that time. Arguably the biggest difference between the Phillies slightly above .500 campaign and the Nationals division leading season was Washington’s ability to weather early season injuries with its depth compared to Philadelphia’s inability to do the same.

The Nationals have 20-game winner and Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez looming in the series finale.

Behind Cole Hamels, the Phillies defeated the Nats 6-3 in the series opener on Tuesady night. While Ross Detwiler – who has pitched extremely well all season long, carrying a top 10 ERA in the National League into last night’s contest – shouldered the blame for the loss, Tuesday night’s game was arguably one the Phillies should have won. They had Hamels throwing, their best pitcher all season long, and perhaps their best overall at this point as he enters his prime and considering their other aces’ age. It was a matchup that, at least on paper, favored the home team.

Looking ahead at the series finale, the Nationals have Gio Gonzalez, their 20-game winner, ace and Cy Young candidate slated to pitch. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has yet to announce their starter, after pulling back Roy Halladay, who has struggled through an up-and-down season. Whomever they fill Halladay’s slot with will understandably be an underdog in a head-to-head matchup with Gonzalez. Which brings us to the swing game, tonight.

The Nationals will again turn to John Lannan in a big spot.

Now the series turns to John Lannan and Kyle Kendrick, two back-of-the-rotation starters in a nationally televised game (ESPN 2) that seems like a toss-up on paper. Kendrick has gone 1-1 in four appearances (three starts) against the Nationals this year. Meanwhile, Lannan faces off against the Phillies for the first time in 2012 after going just 2-4 against them overall in 2011, but winning two of the final three matchups, including his final victory of the year on September 21 at Citizens Bank Park.

Manager Davey Johnson prefers to throw left-handed starters, like Lannan, against the lefty heavy lineup that Philadelphia features. He reconstructed the rotation to start three consecutive southpaws for this series, knowing it might give him an edge. Hamels safely in the rear-view mirror, the focus is on what’s in front of the Nationals.

“We’ve just got to win tomorrow,” said Johnson Tuesday night. “It’s going to be a battle until the end.”

Up four games in the National League East with eight to play, a win would leave their Magic Number to clinch the division at no higher than four at night’s end. That’s how the Nationals have gotten where they are, winning the swing games of series, leading to overall series wins. It’s what has helped them go 30-11-8 in series play this season, including a 15-6-3 mark on the road.

Recently, the Nationals have traded wins and losses over their last eight games. They are hoping that trend continues for one more night to give them a chance at another series win on Thursday.

This Is Happening

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

It’s only appropriate, on this last day of summer, that we can officially begin to discuss postseason baseball in Washington D.C. no longer as a “likelihood” or a “probability,” but as a reality. That’s the thing about the baseball season – a hot start is great, like the one the Nationals stormed out to by winning 10 of their first 14 games, but in the scope of a six-month marathon, it means very little. All the excitement of holding down first place is fantastic fun, but it does not mean anything until this time of year. There are no cheaply won postseason spots in our sport, and only sustained success over the duration of the spring and summer will lead to those meaningful games in October that Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson and everyone around the organization have been talking about since Spring Training.

Yes, the National League East remains undecided, with a combination of eight Nationals wins and/or Braves losses still needed to determine the division crown. Beyond that lie the fight for home field advantage through the various rounds of the playoffs. These Nationals have taken nothing for granted so far this season, and you can be sure they won’t start now. Nevertheless, one indelible fact remains: there will be postseason baseball in our Nation’s Capital for the first time in 79 years.

Michael Morse celebrated as Ryan Zimmerman raced home on a wild pitch.

“What’s the big deal?” an exuberant Johnson jokingly questioned of the press corps, as fans watching his post-game press conference in the adjoining Lexus Presidents Club cheered his arrival.

The Nationals almost clinched their postseason spot Wednesday night in dramatic, surprising fashion, coming from nowhere to overcome a six-run, eighth-inning deficit, only to fall to the Dodgers, 7-6 in the ninth. While that would have been a game for the ages, long remembered by those who stuck it out to the end, it would have supported the script that is often preached, but not necessarily accurate, about this year’s Washington club, that all of this sudden success is a surprise. In actuality, it is the culmination of years of building the right way, from the ground up, and simply watching the pieces come together at the Major League level all at once. In a sense, it was much more fitting that the history was made thanks to a well-pitched, well-defended game, trademarks of a team that Washington fans have fallen in love with this season.

Drew Storen gave the game and the fans their endearing moment to cherish, as he faced the daunting middle of the Dodgers lineup – Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez – holding a three-run lead in the ninth. The cushion would turn out to be more than enough. Storen painted a perfect, outside corner fastball to freeze Kemp, Wednesday night’s hero. He then handcuffed Gonzalez, the powerful lefty’s bat waving helplessly over a disappearing changeup. Finally, he blew away Nationals nemesis Hanley Ramirez – who owned a career .339 (147-for-433) mark with 27 home runs against the Nats coming into the at-bat – on a nasty slider to end it, pounding his mitt once and high-fiving catcher Kurt Suzuki in celebration.

Drew Storen struck out the side in the ninth to nail down the clinch.

“I didn’t even think about it until I saw it on the scoreboard afterwards,” said Storen of the clinching moment. “I was just having fun. The crowd was real into it. If you’re not out there having fun in that situation, you shouldn’t be out there.”

And though Storen provided the coup de gras, seemingly everyone chipped in. Ryan Zimmerman opened the scoring with a booming double to the left-center field gap, scoring Bryce Harper in the third inning. Danny Espinosa had an RBI-double of his own, and came in to score on a Suzuki sacrifice fly, the culmination of a hard-fought, professional at-bat. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth each had a pair of hits, with the shortstop stealing one bag and the outfielder swiping a pair. As it has been all year with this team, you never know who the hero will be, and there were many of them Thursday night.

Ross Detwiler, meanwhile, continued to impress, and continued to show why this team has a real chance to make a deep October run. With six nearly flawless innings, in which a solo home run and a pair of singles were the only bumps in an otherwise smooth road to his career-best 10th victory, he quieted the powerful Dodgers lineup to put the Nationals in position to clinch.

Zimmerman and Werth celebrate the historic night.

“It was great seeing all of them on their feet,” the lanky lefty said of the crowd. “It really gives you the chills a bit to see how into it all of them were.”

Detwiler has consistently gone about his business, and though he is sometimes overshadowed by his teammates, there is no hiding his 6-3 record and 2.76 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break. He also became the fourth Nationals starter to hit double-digits in wins on Thursday, with Edwin Jackson sitting on nine victories heading into his start tonight against Milwaukee.

Speaking of those pesky Brewers, they are suddenly hot, and have clawed their way back into the race for the second National League Wild Card spot. In fact, the final four series on the Nationals schedule – Milwaukee, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Philadelphia again – all bring teams fighting for every game, their postseason lives at stake. Each game will be its own challenge, as the Nats try to wrap up the division. Those battles begin again tonight. But for today, at least, allow yourself to soak in the reality.

This is happening.

From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Step One

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Hello everyone.

As all Nationals fans undoubtedly know, last night the ballclub clinched D.C.’s first postseason berth since 1933.

Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson and the entire clubhouse will be quick to remind us that this is just the first step in an October journey. And they could not be more right. That said, there is no harm in taking a moment to reflect on just what has happened here.

Davey Johnson celebrates the first postseason in D.C. since 1933.

I imagine that the far-ranging emotions we are all feeling are equal parts wonderful and euphoric, and everything between. Think about the span of generations this postseason clinch affects.

Take my family for instance. My father, Ted Lerner, remembers the 1933 World Series. He was eight years old at the time. I think his long-term vision on how to build a franchise has set up this moment for all of us to enjoy. Most of my youth was spent following the exploits of the expansion Senators in the 1960’s. My three children grew up in the era where there was an unfortunate baseball void in Washington, D.C., and could only go to games at Camden Yards like a lot of us.

As diverging as my family’s perspectives are, how different is this moment in time for the youngsters in our area that were raised on Nationals baseball by Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. Even within this modern grouping, you can see the differing perspectives.

But come the first weekend in October, that will change. This town, which is predicated on dueling political philosophies, will unite to witness postseason baseball in D.C. for the first time in 79 years. We’ll stand, clap and cheer together. Being together, united behind one cause, is something that this town is not used to, especially in October of an election year. But now we know it is coming and I cannot wait!

Some other quick thoughts after an historic night and what still lies ahead:

  • I alluded to it earlier, but I could not be more proud of Mike Rizzo and the job he has done. Mike is truly the Executive of the Year in my book. But let’s remember that this ballclub was not built in the last 12 months. Mike arrived in D.C. in the summer of 2006 as our first hire and has poured his soul into the job. And the results show.
  • When thinking about Mike and the job he’s done, my mind naturally segues to the Gio Gonzalez trade and how well that has worked out. Throughout Spring Training, I told anyone who would listen that Gio was special. He had “it.” Now his name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to Cy Young discussions. He’ll take another shot at his 20th win on Saturday afternoon against the Brewers. I know it means a lot to him and all Nats fans.
  • With a postseason berth now secure, everyone will rightfully turn their focus to the Braves and the NL East crown. As important as that is, don’t lose sight of the race for the best record in MLB. Remember, whoever posts the best record in the NL gets home field advantage during the seven-game NLCS. Think about how special that would be for our city, our team and our fans.

Please enjoy the last two regular season homestands and the pennant race. Come out to Nationals Park during the next few weeks to support the boys. They deserve it, and every game matters right now.

The Big Picture

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

As September wears on, the Nationals are looking at plenty of firsts, as well as plenty of lasts. One victory from their first-ever 90-win season, the club enjoyed its last scheduled off day of the regular season on Monday, then got an unexpected breather with Tuesday’s rainout. Coming off an up-and-down road trip, it was the final day without a scheduled game for the Nats before what they hope is their first playoff appearance.

Davey Johnson can make good on his preseason prediction by clinching a postseason spot as soon as tonight.

With the Magic Number to reach the postseason at three – but still 10 to win the National League East outright – it’s easy to get greedy. And, to be honest, with the evolving playoff structure and added importance of avoiding the new play-in game, it’s not a bad idea. So while it can be tempting to rue the missed opportunity to shave that figure to single digits over the weekend in Atlanta, it is important to remember to look at the big picture when it comes to the regular season.

Even just one win would have made the entire series and road trip feel better, but this simple fact remains: the Nationals woke up Wednesday 5.5 games ahead of the Braves – the exact margin they held over second place when the road trip began – with six games fewer remaining on the schedule. In comparison, after the Nationals dropped five straight in late August, they sat just 4.0 games up on Atlanta. The team is still well in control of its own destiny, which is all you can really ask for at this point in the season. For Davey Johnson, that means not being content with hitting that first Magic Number (which the Nats could do with a doubleheader sweep tonight), but rather maintaining focus on a division crown with the NL East title set squarely in his sights.

“The extra Wild Card just put a burden on me, because nobody wants (to be) it,” he explained over the weekend in Atlanta. “Celebrating a one-game playoff has no appeal to me.”

Ryan Zimmerman will see a new NL East Champion rise this season.

Of course, like any of the successes in this tremendous season, nothing will be easy. In fact, each of the Nationals final 16 games will be played against teams with playoff aspirations, with all four teams (the Dodgers, Brewers, Phillies and Cardinals) likely fighting for that fifth and final spot. Any one of them might be a postseason preview, depending on how everything plays out.

However, one thing is for sure, after a notable event quietly occurred over the weekend. The Phillies dropped three-of-four to the worst team in baseball, the Houston Astros, officially eliminating them from contention for the National League East title. That means that there will be a new champion of the division for the first time since the Mets won 97 games in 2006 before falling to the eventual champion Cardinals in the playoffs.

But with six of the Nationals final 10 games against the Phillies, including the last three games of the regular season in D.C., questions of playoff eligibility and seeding may not be answered until the very last series, or even the last game, of the year.

Hey, that’s September baseball. Isn’t it fun?

A Fan’s Guide to NATITUDE Weekend

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Well, it’s finally here. Welcome to NATITUDE Weekend at Nationals Park, the first three-game set of the year against the rival Phillies. If you are planning to attend any (or all) of this weekend’s games, here’s a handy guide to help arm you with the NATITUDE you need to show the Philly fans who decided to make the trip south to Our Park that Washington is ready to turn the tide both on the field and off.

1. Knowledge is power

Stephen Strasburg was named National League Pitcher of the Month for April.

The Nationals are off to a great start to 2012, and it helps to understand just how good they’ve been so far. As any Phillies fan will tell you, pitching is all-important in building a winner. So far, the Nationals have had the best staff in the game, and by a decent margin at that. Stephen Strasburg, who is scheduled to start the series opener on Friday, just took home National League Pitcher of the Month honors for April after going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA (4 ER/32.0 IP), striking out 34 batters while walking just six over his first five starts of the year. In fact, four of the five Nats starting pitchers – including all three slated to start in this series – have ERAs under 2.00 going into Thursday night’s game. That’s something neither Phillies starters Cole Hamels (2.78) nor Roy Halladay (3.40) can claim.

2. Understand your history

Yes, the Phillies have won five straight National League East titles. You already know this, but you will no doubt be reminded of it several times this weekend. However, were you aware that the Nationals beat Philadelphia, 10-8, in the season series in 2011, including the final five games? Before completing a four-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park in September, the Nats won their last home game over Philadelphia in an extra-inning walk-off affair. Two days before that, Ryan Zimmerman cleared the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off grand slam.

3. Speaking of walk-offs…

Ian Desmond has played the hero recently for the Nationals at home.

The Nationals enter their series finale with the Diamondbacks Thursday night with a 9-3 home record, best in the division. Four of those victories have come in walk-off style, including Wednesday’s dramatic, two-out, two-run, come-from-behind, game-winning home run off the bat of Ian Desmond. The winning run in those games has been scored by four different players (Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, and Desmond), so you never know who the hero might be when you come to the ballpark.

4. There’s this guy named Bryce

They may boo him, but every opposing fan will have their eyes trained on home plate when 19 year-old Bryce Harper digs in. The outfielder turned in the first three-hit game of his young career on Wednesday, and is already altering games on defense with his cannon of an arm. Make sure you’re in your seat when Harper bats – you just might witness a piece of history.

5. Root, root, root for the home team

Bring your passion and energy to Our Park to cheer for the Nats. It’s going to be a fun, rowdy environment for sure, so bring your yelling voice. But should you run into some unruly visiting fans, don’t worry about wasting it on them. Let them regale you with stories about their .500 ballclub, and about how good they used to be. You know, in the past. Just take the high road and Ignite Your NATITUDE to support the NL East-leading Nats, the most exciting young team in baseball.

See you at Our Park this weekend!

Our Town, Our Time, Our Park

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Ryan Zimmerman celebrates his walk-off grand slam against the Phillies last year.

Earlier today, the Nationals released Take Back the Park, an initiative designed to get as many Nationals fans in the ballpark for this season’s first home series against the Philadelphia Phillies. With anticipation for the upcoming season at an all-time high, Washington fans have an opportunity to create a true home field advantage here at Nationals Park. That starts today, with a chance to shut Philadelphia fans out of the park for what promises to be another exciting chapter in an already contentious rivalry.

Consider last year. While the Phillies have been dominant in the National League East recently, winning the last five division titles, there was a chink in their armor in 2011. The perennial champs ran into a pesky group from the District that just would not give up. The Nationals won each of the final four series against Philadelphia, including a four-game road sweep in September. In fact, the Nats have won 10 of their last 13 against the Phillies.

Our players have turned the tide on the field of play. Now, it’s time for our fans to do the same. To get you fired up, all next week we’ll take a look back at the top five moments against the Phillies from a thrilling 2011 rivalry series. What are your favorite memories of beating the Phillies in 2011? Check out our top 5 below, then vote for your favorite in the poll below!

Moment #5: A Werth-y Opponent (4/12)

April 12 marked Jayson Werth’s first game against his old team after inking a seven-year deal with the Nationals. He took no time to make his presence felt in the rivalry, taking Joe Blanton deep with a solo shot in the fifth inning en route to a 7-4 victory.

Moment #4: A Team Effort (6/1)

John Lannan out-dueled Roy Oswalt, and the bullpen closed out the game with 3.2 innings of one-hit, shutout relief as Drew Storen closed out a 2-1 win with his 10th save of the season.

Moment #3: Double Dose for Espinosa (5/31)

Cliff Lee surrendered only 18 home runs all season long, but three of them came off the bat of Danny Espinosa, including two in the same game. His second blast, deep over the bullpen and into the left-center field bleachers, provided a signature moment in a 10-2 rout of the former Cy Young Award winner.

Moment #2: Down To The Last Strike (8/21)

With Washington trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Ian Desmond fell behind 1-2 before turning around a breaking ball from Antonio Bastardo into the left-field bleachers to send the game into extra innings. Jonny Gomes then took one for the team, as he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 10th inning, forcing in the game-winning run.

Bonus video: The Walk-Off HBP

Moment #1: Zim, For The Win (8/19)

Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Nationals scored twice on RBI singles by Jonny Gomes and Ian Desmond, then loaded the bases for Ryan Zimmerman with two outs. Mr. Walk-off came through in epic fashion with a two-out, full count, walk-off grand slam, delivering an 8-4 victory for the Nats.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 549 other followers