Brian Foley, Staff Writer
Even as the Nationals rack up more and more NL East titles, my favorite moment from Nats Park still comes from the first season that kicked off this successful run.
After watching Jayson Werth walk-off the Cardinals the night before in a Cheesecake Factory, my dad and my uncle scrounged up Game 5 tickets for the three of us. I was a senior in high school, and it was my first playoff game in any sport. And the atmosphere was electrifying. Nats Park was overflowing with red on a chilly October night.
I distinctly remember, as the public address announcer told us the TBS broadcast was about to begin, 45,966 fans rose to their feet and started whipping around #Natitude rally towels like there was no tomorrow.
Once the game got going, the crowd only increased its decibel levels with each passing pitch. In the bottom of the first, Werth, the previous night’s hero, stepped in to thunderous applause. Three pitches later, he lined a double down the left field line off St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright, and the Nats were in business.
Bryce Harper – he of a .056 batting average in the postseason to that point – was up next. All he did was drill a triple to the wall in left center, and send an already frenzied crowd to its breaking point. And then Ryan Zimmerman pushed us over the edge with a majestic home run to right center field. 3-0 Washington, and Nats Park had officially transformed into a mosh pit.
Of course, the Nationals eventually stretched the lead to 6-0 before the pitching staff imploded in spectacular fashion. That Game 5 choke job has clouded the franchise for six seasons now, but I still can’t let go of the initial thrill of that early lead. I wasn’t so jaded in 2012, and after that first inning, it seemed like that Nats would never lose again. Let’s hope we can get back to that feeling again someday.