This season-saving dinger is the best movie of the year
The Washington Nationals have not had much of an October legacy -- they've pretty much only known frustration and heartbreak since their first season in 2005. When they went down to the Dodgers in the NLDS, 2 games to 1, I knew they were finished. And why shouldn't they be? That's always how it goes for them.
But Ryan Zimmerman, the only player who’s been there since 2005, had had about enough of that in his team’s elimination game on Monday night.
The heavens had opened up minutes before as if to set the mood, rain billowing down from the sky for a few brief minutes of an intense downpour and the Nats clinging perilously to a 2-1 lead. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife when Zimmerman strode to the plate looking to give his team a bigger lead.
If they lost this game, it'd be another cold winter, another October dream dashed. But this time, Zimmerman was ready.
For 15 seasons, Zimmerman has been the face of the franchise -- he started his Major League career in the Nats' first season in Washington and has been there ever since. He's outlived the Bryce Harper era and all its dramatics. He's a D.C. hero.
Early postseason exits in four of those seasons have given the Nats a special kind of baggage that they definitely don't want, and Zimmerman's been there for all of it. Losing Game 4 of the Division Series at home and watching another team celebrate on their infield would have felt all too familiar, so he wanted to do his part to make sure that wouldn't happen.
When he came out to the batter's box, there was a palpable excitement in the air. Could he? Would he?
Well, he did. And when that homer landed beyond the outstretched glove of Cody Bellinger in left-center field, a 2-1 lead suddenly a more comfortable 5-1, Zimmerman and Nationals Park let it all out, fully caught up in a shared experience of total bliss.
That wasn't a scene from a movie, but it felt like one. It should be one. That's the power of the postseason, when narratives clash and heroes do the things that make them heroes. Watching this sequence develop, I let out an audible gasp when Zimmerman's bat collided with Baez's high-90s fastball, blasting it out into the cold night air.
And I know I wasn't the only one with that sort of reaction. At the ballpark, fans inevitably screamed, jumped, hugged strangers, threw things into the sky in jubilation, thousands more doing the same at home watching their television sets.
Zimmerman's homer held up, and the Nats won, 6-1 -- forcing at least one more game this season, and maybe more. Who knows? His blast (and the mighty arm of Max Scherzer) helped the Nats rewrite their own script, and they may not be finished.
Adrian Garro joined MLB.com in 2016. Throughout his travels, both Bartolo Colon and Vin Scully have placed their hands on his shoulders. Not at the same time, though. That'd be amazing.