Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Top Ten Moments

The break is always an ideal time to look back. It's certainly been an exciting and, yes Charlie, an unbelievable three months. I know none of us could have expected to be where we are. But I'll take it.

We've had a ton of great games and lots of memorable moments. Looking back, I found 17 that stuck out. I've narrowed that to ten. See how my list stacks up and how many of them you recall. If you're a sucker like me, you'll be smiling, just as I was when compiling the list.

  • 10: Jose Vidro homers in the 10th inning against the Phillies in the opening series. (4/07)
    Not only was it the game-winner, it gave the Nats their first series victory.

  • 9: Vinny Castilla getting drilled by Lance Cormier. (4/14)
    On opening night, Vinny Castilla needed just a single to hit for the cycle. He was drilled instead. For the remainder of the inning, the crowd showered the D-Backs with boos, escalating as the team walked off the field at the end of the inning.

  • 8: Brad Wilkerson hits an automatic double, giving him the cycle. (4/6)
    Wilkerson started the season off torridly. His double over the head of Kenny Lofton helped to blow open the game against the Phillies, which became Washington's first win.

  • 7: Brian Schneider hits a 12th inning homer against the Cubs. (7/3)
    Twice they had blown two-run saves, yet they played on. Schneider's homer in the 12th inning was the final nail in the coffin, as the Nats swept the Cubs in Chicago.

  • 6: Brian Schneider's two-run double off Danny Kolb.
    Early in the season before we knew what we had, the Nats entered the 9th inning of a game in Atlanta trailing 3-1 after being shut down by Tim Hudson. Brian Schneider ripped a two-run double off the Braves' closer to take a 4-3 lead, sending a signal to the N.L. East that this team wouldn't fold.

  • 5: Ryan Church's bases-clearing double against San Francisco (5/7)
    The Nationals tried squandering a rare 7-run inning when they entered the 9th inning trailing by one. With a rookie reliever on the mound, the Nationals mounted a rally when Church unloaded the bases with a drive to the outfield. It was his second bases-clearing double in as many games.

  • 4: Ryan Church's last at-bat homer against the Marlins. (6/5)
    On a hot Sunday afternoon, Ryan Church got a rare chance to face a left-handed reliever in the bottom of the 8th inning. His homer to right won the game, completing a sweep of the Marlins that knocked them into last place, but more importantly, carrying the Nationals into first place.

  • 3: Chad Cordero's bases-loaded jam against the Angels (6/15)
    Ryan Drese made his Nationals' debut that night, yielding just two hits in eight innings of work. When he turned the game over to Cordero in the 9th, the Nats led just 1-0. Single, Walk, Single, and the bases were loaded with nobody out. The game was lost.

    Yet Cordero found a switch, flipped it, and dominated the Angels. Finley struck out; Molina popped weakly to shallow center; McPherson struck out. And the Nationals escaped with one of their more improbable wins of the season.

  • 2: Gary Bennett's clutch double off Gryboski. (6/2)
    The Nationals and their strong bullpen blew a 3-2 lead when the Braves scored four runs in the top of the 8th inning. With a three-run deficit, the Nats went to work off failing closer Dan Kolb.

    By the time Gary Bennett, who had already homered in the game, came to the plate with the bases loaded, the Nats trailed by just 1. Bennett ripped a hard liner deep to the gap in right-center. All three runs scored and the stands bounced.

  • 1: Jose Guillen's pine tar bomb. (6/14)
    Mike Scioscia forgot that you can't make Jose Guillen angry. After a benches-clearing fracas, started when Scioscia yelped at Frank for having his pine-tar-using pitcher kicked out of the game, Jose Guillen faced Scot Shields with the Nats still trailing by two and a runner on base.

    Guillen ripped a low laser into the stands in right field, and ripping the hearts out of the Angels. The three ensuing runs, which blew open the game, were all but inevitable.

  • Honorable mentions: Guillens' game-winning 2B against the Pirates after the rain delay; Church's SF to beat the Marlins in extras when the Nats were no-hit after the 4th inning; Brian Jordan's homer turned strike; Jeffrey Hammonds' 1-0 game-winning single to beat the Brewers for the Nats first walk-off win; Brad Wilkerson's upper-deck homer; the grounds crew's misadventures with the tarp resulting in an 8-inning win versus the Mets

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