Updated: May 26, 2020
(Photo by Sung Shin. Cover image by Lorie Shaull)
Happy May 24, everybody! It's a day to remember and a day to live by because today is the day you go 1-0.
The Washington Nationals were 19-31 at this point of last year's season. That was it. They had hit rock bottom (well, not completely, but the Miami Marlins don't count, right?). In the month of May alone, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman, and Matt Adams were all injured at one point or another.
Additionally, the Nationals had also the worst bullpen in the team's history. At one point, they had a 6.34 ERA, which was 29th in the league, beating out only the God-awful Baltimore Orioles. The Nationals were 21st and 24th in strikeouts and walks per nine innings, respectively, AND just to throw in the mix for fun: Trevor Rosenthal had appeared in five games, had not recorded a single out, and maintained an ERA of frickin' infinity.
The Cardinals went 3-1 against the Nats by May 2. The Brewers swept the Nats on May 8. And then the Nats lost five games in a row including a four-game sweep by the Mets.
On May 23, the Washington Nationals had a 0.1% chance of winning the World Series.
But then they won.
A year ago, they won. They beat the Marlins 12-10 in an absolute grind of a game. And then they won again. Then again. And then they kept winning… right on into October. Since May 24, the Nats had the best record in the National League and the third best in the MLB at 74-48.
That's what you get when you stay in the fight.
But it didn't stop there. The Nats played the Milwaukee Brewers (the same team that had swept them early in May) in the NL Wildcard game. It was 3-1 with the Brewers in the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning when Juan Soto stepped up. Base-clearing, three-run double. Nats win.
Next up, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Down 3-0 in the Game 5 elimination game, the Nationals were still not out. They fought their way back, tied it up, forced extra innings, and then Howie Kendrick stepped up. Grand slam. Nats win.
I mean… do we even need to talk about the Cardinals? That series is an absolute afterthought. Nats win.
And then the World Series. The away team won every single game of that series. The MLB, NBA, and NHL have all combined for more than 1,400 best-of-seven postseason series, and this is the first time in which that has happened. That's just to add to the improbable nature of it all.
Down 2-0 for the majority of game, the Nats were still not out. It was the top of the seventh when Howie Kendrick stepped up, again.
"Nationals on top!" yelled Joe Buck as Kendrick rounded the bases. He had just hit the game-winning, 2-run homer off of the right field foul pole.
Just to clear that all up… the Nats faced elimination three times, were losing in all three games, and won all three games. They stayed in the fight, and they went 1-0 every day.
So, yeah. That all started today last year. Happy May 24.