The Washington Nationals finished last season with baseball’s best record at 98-64. Not only did they earn home field advantage as long as they were involved in the playoffs, the Nats earned some other “firsts” as they made history in DC.
They earned their first playoff berth since relocating from Montreal. Washington only had to await the result of the NL Wild Card game to find out who would oppose them in the NLDS. As we noted the other day, that would be the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite having the NL’s best record, Game 1 would be held in St. Louis, not DC.
The first run in Washington Nationals playoff history would come in the game’s 2nd inning. Catcher Kurt Suzuki would drive in Adam LaRoche with a single and the Nats first playoff lead. That was short-lived as the Cardinals scored twice in the bottom of the second. A Gio Gonzalez wild pitch allowed Yadier Molina to score. Jon Jay would lift a sacrifice fly would plate Daniel Descalso.
The game would produce no more runs until the top of the 8th. After Mike Morse reached on an error and an Ian Desmond single, Danny Espinosa laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. With two outs, Nationals manager Davey Johnson sent left-handed hitting Chad Tracy to pinch-hit. Cards skipper Mike Matheny countered with his lefty Marc Rzepczynski. Johnson then pulled back Tracy in favor of the righty bat of Tyler Moore who had hit only .207 as a pinch-hitter during the regular season.
On the 5th pitch of the at-bat, Moore sent a pitch into right field for a single. Both Morse and Desmond scored to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead. Their bullpen would survive an 8th inning error and retire the final six Cardinals to give Washington the win, the first in Nationals history.
1998 – New York Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch engages in an argument over an interference call at first base. As the ball lies on the ground and Knoblauch continues his argument, Enrique Wilson scores breaking a 1 – 1 tie in the 12th inning as the Cleveland Indians would take a 4 – 1 victory at Yankee Stadium in Game 2 of the ALCS.
1969 – The St. Louis Cardinals trade Curt Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies in a blockbuster deal involving slugging first baseman Richie Allen. Flood refuses to report to the Phillies. He also proceeds to take baseball to court over the “reserve clause“. Eventually, the case would reach the US Supreme Court where Flood and the MLBPA lost their case.
1936 – The Brooklyn Dodgers sent Casey Stengel packing after three seasons of under .500 ball (208-251, .453). The highest Brooklyn finished in Stengel’s three seasons at the helm was 5th in 1935.