In 2012, the Nationals were up two runs in the ninth inning and about to clinch a spot in the NLCS for the first time in franchise history. Then, tragedy struck. Relief pitcher Drew Storen gave up four runs in the ninth inning and blew the game.
Over the next five years following the 2012 loss, they lost in the 2014 NLDS, 2016 NLDS and the 2017 NLDS.
After missing the playoffs in 2018, the Nationals returned in 2019 but in a different way. For the first time they came into the playoffs as a wild card team. “After the past playoffs, I wasn’t expecting much going into these playoffs,” lifetime Nationals fan senior Will Karis said.
They faced the Milwaukee Brewers, and up until the eighth they trailed. Until 20 year old superstar Juan Soto came up to bat. He hit a single into right field that scored three runs and sent Washington to the NLDS to face the 106-win Dodgers. “After that win, everyone was feeling good. I’m not sure if everyone expected us to win, but we were moving on,” senior Matthew Kopsidas said.
After trading wins four games in a row, the Nats were heading to yet another game five. For most of it, the game didn’t look promising. However, in the eighth they tied it up at three with back-to-back home runs off of starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw. The game went into extra innings, but this one turned out differently compared to past years.
Second baseman Howie Kendrick hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth lifting the Nats to a 7-3 win and their first ever series win. “I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember, and game was great. Our pitching has really helped us out, throughout the entire playoffs. Against the Dodgers it was especially Strasburg that came in clutch,” senior Eli Dross said.
Next came the St. Louis Cardinals. Through the first three games of the series, the Nats pitchers combined let up one earned run. In game one starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez pitched almost eight no hit innings. In game two, Scherzer pitched almost seven no hit innings and in game three Strasburg let up just one run.
The pitchers, along with timely hitting, led the team to a 4-0 sweep and a trip to their first ever World Series. “Even as an Orioles fan, I’m happy for all the Nationals fans, because I know how it feels to have a team that you like in the championship game,” senior Benny Kotler said.