In part two of “September Nationals History Lessons,” we revisit all twelve games that marked the end of a season in the Nationals history. Some were entirely forgettable, a few were exciting, and one has been nearly forgotten considering the circumstances from the night before. In total, the Nats are 3-9 in their final game of the year. (They’re 3-6 in seasons ending in the regular season.) Some interesting names took center stage in these games from across the last decade. As I said last week, this is nothing more than a fun exercise and change of pace from the postseason hot takes you are getting from every media source in the nation. Enjoy!
2005 – Phillies 7, Nats 5 (81-81)
The Nationals wrapped up their first season with three straight losses to the Phillies, preventing a winning season. This was a relatively forgettable game with Jon Lieber shutting down the Nats across six innings. Ryan Church did homer, and September call-up Ryan Zimmerman doubled to push his final batting average to .397 in his first stint in the majors.
2006 – Mets 6, Nats 2 (71-91)
For the second straight year, Washington was swept at home by a division rival to finish the season. The 97-win NL East Champions cruised behind four innings of one-run ball from Oliver Perez. Ryan Church (again) was the best player for the Nats that day, going 3-4 with a double and an RBI.
2007- Phillies 6, Nats 1 (73-89) and 2008 – Phillies 8, Nats 3 (59-102)
For the next two years, Washington got pummeled by the Phillies in Game 162 (technically 161 since the Nationals never made up a rained-out game). No one played particularly well, from batters to pitchers, but there was one notable event in the 2007 game: Nook Logan had a pinch-hit, one of only six hits for Washington. This matters of course, because I will utilize any chance to push perhaps the greatest radio call-in team history (Now with video!!).
2009 – Nats 2 (59-103), Braves 1
The Nationals’ first time winning their final game of the year took 15 innings, but it did finally happen. A two-out single by Alberto Gonzalez drove in Elijah Dukes to score the deciding run. Strong pitching from starter J.D. Martin and 9 scoreless innings from the bullpen locked up a tight win for the worst team in Nationals history.
2010 – Nats 2 (69-93), Mets 1
Once again, the Nationals went to extra innings to win a 2-1 game on the season’s final day, this time in 14 innings. Livan Hernandez went 6 2/3 innings and allowed only one run. Oliver Perez walked in Adam Kennedy in the 14th to give the Nationals the win.
2011 – Nats 3 (80-81), Marlins 1
The Nationals won the final game of the year for the third straight season, again holding their opponent to just one run. This time it was via six innings of shutout baseball by Stephen Strasburg. He picked up 10 strikeouts and allowed one hit before the bullpen, including Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, finished the job. Ian Desmond had two RBI and Roger Bernadina had the other.
2012 – Cardinals 9, Nats 7 (98-64)
You all know what happened in this one. Moving on.
2013 – Diamondbacks 3, Nats 2 (86-76)
A disappointing season following the team’s first postseason appearance ended with a whimper against the .500 D’backs. Tanner Roark threw three strong innings but it wasn’t enough, as the Nats were unable to create much offense. Steve Lombardozzi and Anthony Rendon each had two hits in an otherwise uneventful game.
2014 – Giants 3, Nats 2 (96-66)
The Nats were held to just four hits, two off the bat of Bryce Harper, in one of the most frustrating losses in team history. Gio Gonzalez was good but not great in four innings, and Aaron Barrett’s 7th inning wild pitch will be forever remembered by Nationals fans.
2015 – Mets 1, Nats 0 (83-79)
I think most people forget this game even happened. At the end of a massively disappointing season where Washington gave away the division to the upstart Mets, many fans probably didn’t tune into this final series. What most people remember from the series is Max Scherzer’s no-hitter in game 161, which was memorable to the point that I know some even remember it as the last game of the year. It seems the team treated it as such, too, considering Washington only had two hits in the last game of the year. Curtis Granderson homered to score the only run, as the Nats were unmotivated and still on a high from the night prior, and the Mets were certainly looking ahead to the NLDS.
2016 – Dodgers 4, Nats 3 (95-67)
Perhaps the wildest game in Nationals history ended with a Wilmer Difo strikeout at the hands of “closer” Clayton Kershaw. Questionable decisions (ones unsuited for analysis in this space) in Game 5 will haunt the team and fans for as long as the Nationals go without an NLDS series win. Most fascinating was the usage of players in this game: Washington used 22 players off their 25-man roster and the Dodgers used 19. All stops were pulled, creating one of the most intoxicating games in recent memory. It was playoff baseball at its finest.Tags: Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals