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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Witness to Baseball History

Well - I'm hanging on to the glory of this game and the sweep that followed...because let's be honest; if you pay any attention to Nationals baseball (you probably don't) then you know the weekend was glorious but the week so far has pretty much crashed and burned. *sigh* I don't want to be a downer, but I'm pretty sure it's time to just try to get healthy, seriously work on the bullpen and look toward the 2016 season. It is what it is....

However, this is about the Nationals game that we went to on Thursday, September 3rd. It was a pretty epic game...so epic that the Nationals made some franchise history and Bryce Harper made a little history of his own.; which also happened to be Major League Baseball history. When the season is slowly crashing and burning, you have to hold on to games like this...remember the good times...

Remember - I've already said I'm dramatic. I was being serious. I get seriously dramatic about baseball.
Covering up the field before a little rainstorm...
Are these not absolutely hilarious?
My Mom and I set out on our adventure shortly after 3:00 PM - and yes, that was necessary because even though the game didn't start till 7:05, the game was in DC. And lo - DC has the traffic. The goal was to arrive in DC before everyone else started trying to get out of DC at 5...and for the most part, we managed that. However, things are always being "improved for your future enjoyment" in DC and the roads are not exempt from this...which means when my phone told me to stay on Independence Avenue...I couldn't because there was a detour onto Michigan...which led to an extended tour through the middle of downtown DC at 4:30 in the afternoon. I played dodge with a city bus and won...although I may have shaved a few months off my Mom's life (I promise Mom, I 100% knew what I was doing...we were totally fine...no need to shout...) and happily got us to the Park by 4:45.

Granted, I was a little frustrated with myself because I just knew...just knew deep down that if I'd gone left on S Maine Street instead of following Independence like my lame GPS said...I'd have gone right up between the Tidal Basin and the Reflecting Pool, under the bridge toward the Anacostia and the Naval Yard...and right up the street to the stadium. My frustration was vindicated on the way home when I did that in reverse. So...I know for next year, right? Except DC will probably do something to "improve" things and that won't be the case...ha!

Waiting out the "severe storm" under the concourse.
I spy with my little eye...the Capitol. And all it's scaffolding...
Clouds were rolling in as we arrived and so I suggested we take shelter in the Team Store - because that's never a dangerous option, right? I hadn't actually planned on buying anything more than the most recent issue of Nationals Magazine but then we passed a t-shirt wall and lo and behold, they had the Max Scherzer shirt that I'd been looking everywhere for and I might have had a small moment. I actually wanted to scale the counter and grab one for myself - I don't know why. I definitely somehow thought that all thirty of them were going to disappear before someone could come help me...which obviously didn't happen. So, I got my long sought after shirt AND my magazine and we got out of the Team Store before I could find anything else I thought I had to have.

The Anacostia River flowing lazily along behind Nationals Park.
A look at Nationals Park from above it all - the Upper Gallery.
The flag waving in the breeze...
Rain drops had started to fall by then and we were still over an hour from the first pitch...and then some pretty epic lightning flashed out over the river and announcers asked that everyone please seek shelter under the concourse while a severe storm moved through the area. My Mom and I utilized this time to make a complete circle of the park (under the concourse...of course...) and then took the escalators all the way to the Upper Gallery to see what we could see. We were rewarded with a view of the Capitol in the distance...and we could also spy the Air Force Memorial, although I didn't snap a picture of that. We made another circle around the park to get back to our seats (funnily enough, they won't let you walk through the Lexus Club Level to get to your seat if you don't have a Lexus Club Level ticket...) and got some food on the way! Cheese fries for the win!

Hands over hearts...it's National Anthem time.
Washington Nationals - PLAY BALL!
Number 34 - up to bat...
Are you ready to smash the ball? He didn't...but he still made history...
Our seats were great and so was the game - I'd been hoping that I'd get to attend another home game and see my Nationals get a Curly W (I still have two more to go this season, here's hoping I witness two more wins?) and they certainly won this game. I mean, they WON this game...the final score was 15-1. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...

The game started off well enough...although Jordan Zimmermann* seemed to favor throwing balls and it was a little nerve-wracking. Granted, the offense gave us a nice two run lead in the bottom of the first: Harper would get on base with his first walk of the night (more on that later) and Ryan Zimmerman; to a standing ovation for his return to Nationals Park after hitting his 200th career home run the night before, smashed the first pitch thrown to him, doubled and brought Bryce home. 1-0 Nationals. Clint Robinson stepped in and immediately blasted a single that brought Ryan on home...and the Nationals left the first inning with a 2-0 lead.

Mr. Walk-Off's video...
Ryan Zimmerman - locked, loaded & absolutely on fire!
A standing O was all it took - that first pitch rocketed out to deep center for a double!
The Braves scored their only run in the second inning but the Nationals wanted to be sure and let the Braves know what was up - they came back in the bottom of the second inning to score five runs! Ian Desmond started the inning with a double and Wilson Ramos followed right behind him with a double and brought Ian home, making the score 3-1. The bases soon loaded up and Harper walked for the second time and in the process, brought in Jordan Zimmermann for another run and made the score 4-1. Ryan Zimmerman brought Jayson Werth home with a sacrifice fly and the score went up to 5-1; the Braves put in a new pitcher at this point and Yunel Escobar welcomed him to the field by smacking a 2 run single, bringing the score at the end of the inning to 7-1. Nice work boys!

My happy place - duh.
Scherzer approves of the 9 run lead in the bottom of the 3rd.
Max, Bryce & Ryan writ small - & watching a game at Nationals Park.
One of the most interesting giveaways of the season...
The scoring would continue in the third inning - just not for the Braves. They made some valiant efforts to try and get points on the board, but it was to no avail. The Nationals loaded up the bases once more in the bottom of the third and Ryan Zimmerman drove in two runs with a single to right field...as mentioned, he's been on fire...and the score was 9-1. Clint Robinson got his second single RBI of the night right after that and the score jumped to 10-1...the Nationals were in the double digits before the fourth inning even started and the fans in the crowd were going absolutely wild...me included!

Calvin raced ahead for the win in the President's Race!
Jayson & Bryce watch as Ian takes his bat to do some damage...
I'm a dork - I'm holding the Curly W backwards. 
The fourth inning was fast and scoreless but the Nationals unleashed the bats again in the bottom of the fifth; Ryan Zimmerman got a good knock and brought Harper home to make the score 11-1 (Harper was on base for the third time that night; also the third walk of the night) and four batters later, with the bases loaded Wilson Ramos would hit a sacrifice fly that would bring home Ryan Zimmerman and further raise the score to 12-1. And man, that was seriously nice! Zimmermann's pitching ended after six innings but he'd done pretty incredible in spite of a shaky start - only one run on two hits and five strike outs. Not bad sir, not bad at all. Sammy Solis and Rafael Martin pitched the final three innings and held the Braves to just their one run from the second inning.

I could get used to this view...
The Braves trying to make a dent...but not succeeding...
Up close & personal with the gigantic scoreboard!
The bottom of the sixth inning allowed the Nationals to add some more points to the board...which hey, pretty glorious, right? Tyler Moore (former MSU bulldog - whoop, whoop!) started the inning with a pretty sweet double and he came racing home when Clint Robinson hit a sacrifice fly and brought the score up to 13-1. The lead ticked up again when Yunel Escobar brought Anthony Rendon home and we started the 7th inning stretch with a score of 14-1. The bats on fire scoring drive would finally come to an end in the 8th inning when Danny Espinosa capped off the night with a one run blast of a homer that put the final score at 15-1.

Add a Curly W to the books; the Nationals win 15-1!
Saying good-bye for now...see you in two weeks!
As mentioned in the title, this game involved some Nationals history as well as MLB history and I'm pretty psyched to have been at the game to witness both. The final score of the game; 15-1, brought about the largest margin of victory for the Nationals in their ten year history. The record was 13-1 before the game on September 3rd...so that moment will be noted in Nationals history and we'll see how long it takes for them to break their own record.

The other bit of history involved Bryce Harper and the four walks he had - while he didn't get a single hit, he walked four times, scored four runs and was even credited with an RBI. While that may not seem spectacular, in doing this he became the first player since 1913 to accomplish this feat and he became the first player ever to do this since tracking RBI's as a statistic began all the way back in 1920. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty impressive night for someone who didn't even swing the bat. And fear not...he'd swing the bat just fine the next three nights, racking up homers 32, 33 and 34 consecutively for the season.

I brought home a couple things from my adventure into DC.
Crazy Eyes...Mad Max...love this shirt, no matter how you look at it.
Navigating out of DC and home was a breeze and I happily crawled into bed after such an awesome night at the ballpark. I did have trouble falling to sleep because I was still on a high after watching the game...I almost always feel like that after a great game at Nationals Park.

The week so far has been beyond rough for the Nationals and while I'd never want to be a fan accused of giving up, I do think the road ahead offers a very slim chance for a trip to the playoffs for the Nationals. Having said all that, rain or shine (even heavy rain...rain with severe lightning and strong winds) I still love my Nationals. If we don't make the playoffs this year, I'll just start looking to 2016...but it's certainly nice to have memories of games like this when the going gets tough!


*Yes - there are two players on the Washington Nationals with the last name Zimmerman/Zimmermann. Ryan Zimmerman is the long time first baseman who has been with the Nationals for the entirety of their 10 year history. Jordan Zimmermann is a pitcher and has been with the Nationals since 2009; he pitched the first no-hitter in Washington Nationals history on September 28, 2014. 

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