Three Keys To Nats’ Game One NLDS Victory

Today, we all woke up to reading about the Washington Nationals' lead in the NLDS, which Will wrote about late last night. Through the nail-biting, nerve-wracking contest that saw Gio Gonzalez issue seven free passes in just five innings, there were three keys to the game that gave the Nats the crucial game one victory. To the countdown…

3. Ryan Mattheus’ two-pitch, three-out inning

Craig Stammen had entered to relieve Gio Gonzalez and he danced around a single and hit-by-pitch in the sixth. In the seventh, his second inning of work, he was less lucky. The bases were quickly loaded with the first three batters Stammen saw. In came Ryan Mattheus for a nearly impossible task: give up zero runs despite the bases being loaded with none out.

Well, that’s exactly what he did. On two pitches. On the first pitch, Allen Craig grounded to short, and Ian Desmond threw home for the force out. On the second pitch, Yadier Molina grounded one to Ryan Zimmerman, who threw to Danny Espinosa and then Adam LaRoche for the inning ending double play. Ryan Mattheus, and everyone else, was jacked beyond belief. If even one run scores there, it’s a totally different game.

2. Jayson Werth’s home run robbing grab

With a runner on and one out in the sixth and Stammen on the mound, Jayson Werth flew back on a long fly ball from Daniel Descalso. Werth kept going, and going, until he stopped right in front of the wall, moving from sunlight to shadow, leapt and made an incredible catch over the wall, robbing Descalso of a two-run home run that would have given the Cardinals a 4-1 lead.

If Werth doesn’t make this catch, even the event that is number one on this list doesn’t make a difference. Werth said about the catch, “Until then, I was pretty much panicking cause it was a ball that I was pretty unsure on.” Well played, Jayson.

1. Tyler Moore’s two-run bloop single

Well, you can’t win the game without coming back and scoring the two runs that Moore put on the board in the eighth, and the events that lead up to the two-RBI single help make this the number one key to game one.

Davey Johnson pinch-hit Chad Tracy for Ryan Mattheus, and Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny countered with lefty Mark Rzepczynski. Davey then countered with right-handed rookie Tyler Moore. Matheny stuck with Rzepczynski, and Davey won the managerial battle.

Moore took a 2-2 pitch the opposite way and blooped it in front of Carlos Beltran in right field. Both Michael Morse and Ian Desmond scored, and the Nats got the lead they wouldn’t relinquish

It was an unlikely set of circumstances under which the top seeded playoff team would win a game, but that’s how the Nats have been playing all year. They never give up, and they showed why you can’t sleep on this young team this October with these three key moments.

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.