Relive the top homers in Nationals history
Despite only moving to D.C. in 2005, the Nationals have had some pretty important homers. From walks off’s to series-clinching bombs, it has been an impressive sight. Today I will be going over the top 10 homers in the team’s history. I will only be choosing home runs hit by Nationals, so no Expos.
Terrmel Sledge starts things off (2005)
On April 4, the Washington Nationals were playing in their first-ever game since moving to D.C. While the team lost, outfielder Terrmel Sledge made history, as he hit the first homer in Nationals history. Sledge only played one season for the Nationals before he was traded to the Texas Rangers for Alfonso Soriano. However, Sledge’s bomb meant baseball was back in D.C.
The legend of Mr Walk off (2006)
The Nationals used their first-ever first-round pick in 2005 on a third baseman from UVA named Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman was called up before the 2005 season ended and showed a glimpse of what was to come. In 58 at-bats, he hit .397, with six RBI’s, and an OPS of .988. In 2006, Zimmerman became the starting third baseman and has been a fixture in the lineup since. The 2006 season was a disappointment for the team as they finished 71-91. The season was highlighted by Soriano making the 40-40 club and Zimmerman’s rookie campaign. On Fathers Day, June 18 2006, the legend of Mr Walk off was born. Zimmerman hit his first-ever walk-off homer, a two-run shot against the Yankees. Zimmerman has gone on to hit 11 walk-off homers, but at the time we had no clue how clutch he would become. Instead, it was a great moment in a miserable season.
Soriano makes history
Earlier, I mentioned Soriano as a bright spot during the Nationals 2006 season. He was a one-man wrecking crew, posting the best season of his career. On August 19, 2006, Soriano hit his 40th homer of the season in a loss to the Phillies. At the time it was a career-high for him. As the season went on, Soriano became the fourth player ever to reach the 40-40 club, as he clubbed 46 homers and swiped 41 bases. Even though he only played one season for the Nats, Soriano will always be remembered.
Putting on a show at the new stadium (2008)
From 2005-2007, the Nationals called RFK stadium home. In 2008, the franchise made Nationals Park their new permanent home. The team’s opener was against the divisional rival Atlanta Braves. Washington led 2-1 entering the ninth when the bullpen blew the save. Why does that sound so familiar? Zimmerman came up to the plate, in the bottom of the ninth, with the scored tied. The face of the franchise added to his legacy, as he blasted another walk-off homer to send the Braves fans packing home full of disappointment. Zimmerman continued his dominance as the Nationals won their first-ever home opener at the new stadium.
Zimmerman puts the team on the board (2019)
In-game one of the World Series, ace Gerrit Cole was on the mound for the Astros. At the time, Cole had yet to lose a game since May 22 and hadn’t given up four or more runs in a game since July 22. Both of those streaks were snapped during Game One. When Zimmerman came up to the plate in the top of the second, the Nats were already down 2-0. Cole had retired the first five batters with ease and the Houston crowd was raucous. Zimmerman changed everything with one swing. He crushed a solo shot that was the franchises first-ever World Series home run.
The blast immediately changed the dynamic of the game. It quieted the crowd while showing his teammates Cole was human. The Nats went on to score five runs against Cole and sent him home with the loss. All of this was started by the Z man.
Jayson Werth forces game 5 (2012)
From 2006-2011, the Nationals ended every season with a losing record. In 2012 the team shocked the baseball world by going 98-64 and clinching the best record in the league. The Nationals made the playoffs for the first time since moving to D.C. They faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. Down 2-1 in the series and tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Jayson Werth broke through. Werth led off and was in a battle against Lance Lynn as the at-bat went 13 pitches. Werth won the at-bat as he launched a solo shot to force game five. The Nats would end up losing the game in heartbreaking fashion, but Werth showed the young Nats were there to fight.
Ball don’t lie (2019)
Game six of the 2019 World Series was full of controversy. Trea Turner was called out on a controversial call in the seventh inning. With a runner on first, Turner hit a grounder down the third baseline. The third baseman, in turn, fielded the ball and threw it to first. Turner who was running hard knocked the first baseman’s glove and the ball rolled away. The Nationals had runners on second and third with no outs. Then Turner was called out for running out of the base path and the runner was sent back to first. After a lengthy delay, the call was upheld. That call could cost the Nats and would be a black eye for baseball. The Astros got the next batter out and then Rendon came up to the plate. Mr Clutch launched an absolute moon shot to give the Nats some breathing room.
After all, Ball doesn’t lie.
Rendon and Soto go back to back (2019)
The Nationals 2019 World Series run is a wild ride. Game five of the NLDS might have been the craziest game of the entire run. Down 3-1 against the Dodgers in the eighth inning, things were looking bleak. Clayton Kershaw was on the mound and the Nats were down to their last six outs, with the teams best two players due up. It was do or die against arguably the best pitcher of the 2010s. The team’s dynamic duo delivered in the biggest way possible.
Howie Kendrick heroics part 1. (2019)
From 2012-2018, the Nationals had only known playoff heartbreak and failure. Things started to change in the 2019 Wild Card game after Josh Hader blew the game for the Brewers in the bottom of the eighth. In-game five of the NLDS, the Nationals looked like they had run out of luck. Then Rendon and Soto went back to back to tie it. Till this point, the always consistent Howie Kendrick was having a terrible postseason. He finished the NLDS hitting .250, and had committed multiple fielding errors. In the top of the tenth of game five, Kendrick redeemed himself. He took advantage of manager Dave Roberts questionable decision to keep Joe Kelly in with the bases loaded.
Kendrick hit a grand slam to centerfield and sent the Nationals to the NLCS for the first time since the team moved to D.C.
Howie Kendrick heroics part 2. (2019)
Arguably the biggest homer in Nationals history. After redeeming himself in game five of the NLDS, Kendrick went on a tear. He won NLCS MVP after hitting .333 with four RBI’s, and an OPS of 1.012. The theme for the Nationals 2019 playoff run was showing up clutch in elimination games. Game seven of the World Series was no different. Down 2-0 in the seventh inning, Rendon got the Nats on the board with a solo shot. Soto drew a walk and up came Kendrick. Facing Will Harris, who would later become his teammate, Kendrick muscled a well-placed cutter down the rightfield line and banged it off of the foul pull for a go-ahead home run.
That noise will never get old. Kendricks game-winning homer brought home the franchise, its first-ever World Series title.