For the first time in franchise history, the Washington Nationals are heading to the National League Championship Series. It took some dramatics, but the Nationals came back from a 3-0 deficit in the deciding Game 5 to win in extra innings. First, down 3-1, the Nats got back-to-back home runs off of All-Star Clayton Kershaw. Then, with the bases loaded in the top of the 10th inning and Joe Kelly on the mound, Howie Kendrick — who struggled all series with defensive errors and a cold bat — blasted a grand slam to put the Nats ahead 7-3.
Virginia baseball alums Ryan Zimmerman and Sean Doolittle were instrumental in the series win, including the latter getting the side out in the bottom of the 10th to secure the victory.
Zimmerman went 1-for-5 in Wednesday night’s clinching game, starting at first base. He has gone 5-for-19 through the six postseason games, with his biggest hit coming against the Dodgers in Game 4 as he roped a 3-run home run to centerfield to give the Nats a big lead and help force Game 5.
This is extra exciting for Zimmerman, a player that has been with the Nationals for the entirety of his 15-year career since being drafted in 2005. He has battled numerous injuries throughout his career, so the victory is extra sweet.
Doolittle pitched 3.1 innings of relief in the series, giving up one hit (a home run) and striking out three batters.
The Nationals ended their stretch of playoff futility with the win, losing in the NLDS in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017. Three of those (2012, 2016, and 2017) were devastating Game 5 losses. More impressive? Washington trailed the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning in the one-game NL Wild Card game, just six outs from being eliminated before the postseason even started. Zimmerman’s pinch-hit AB kept the Nats’ 2-out rally alive, and the veteran first baseman scored one of the pivotal runs.
This is the first time in three seasons that the Los Angeles Dodgers (and Virginia alum Chris Taylor) won’t be playing in the NLCS.
For now, we’re just going to enjoy Doolittle reactions:
POP THAT CHAMPAGNE, WASHINGTON!!