The 2012 Nationals took the field 77 years after the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords. But in the MLB Dream Bracket 2, they competed in a simulated best-of-seven series.
With a roster that included such players as Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth and rookie Bryce Harper, the Nationals captured the series in the full seven games. LaRoche led the team with three home runs, and Desmond batted .393 with a pair of homers. Gio González stood out in the rotation with a 0.69 ERA and 14 strikeouts over 13 innings.
MLB Dream Bracket 2 features a 64-team tournament with two all-time teams from each of the 30 Major League franchises, three Negro Leagues teams and the 1994 Montreal Expos. The simulated competition is being produced by Out of the Park Baseball 21, Major League Baseball’s most realistic strategy game (PC and Mac).
Let’s take a look at how the 2012 Nationals won this series and advanced to face the 1975 Reds, who beat the ’07 Rockies, 4-2, in the first round:
Game 1: Nationals 6, Crawfords 3
The Nationals got on the board in the top of the fifth inning when Danny Espinosa drove in Michael Morse with a double off Leroy Matlock. The Crawfords then took a 3-1 lead through the seventh. Two runs scored off an error in the sixth, and Cool Papa Bell had a leadoff double off González and scored in the seventh. The Nats weren't done, however. They turned the game around with a five-run eighth, powered by a three-run shot from Harper.
Game 2: Nationals 6, Crawfords 0
The Nats got a strong seven-inning start by Stephen Strasburg. He fanned seven and allowed only two hits before Ross Detwiler closed out the final two frames. LaRoche powered Washington with home runs in the first and ninth innings, the latter soaring an estimated 412 feet. Morse also belted a homer in the fifth. The Nats collected 13 hits, including nine in 4 1/3 innings against Crawfords starter Bert Hunter.
Game 3: Crawfords 6, Nationals 4
The Crawfords earned their first win in the series behind a two-run eighth inning. The Nats climbed back from an early 4-0 deficit with home runs from Detwiler, Kurt Suzuki and Desmond, whose long ball against Roosevelt Davis went an estimated 411 feet. But in the eighth, Jimmie Crutchfield and Judy Johnson drove in runs off Craig Stammen. Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann exited the game after allowing four runs (three earned) in three innings. Davis struck out 10 over 6 2/3 frames for the Crawfords.
Game 4: Crawfords 9, Nationals 3
Edwin Jackson struggled in the start, allowing six runs off seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings. The Nationals sent seven pitchers to the mound and gave up a total of 14 hits, including home runs by Chester Williams, Pat Patterson and Josh Gibson. Harper hit a 424-foot solo homer in the first, but the Nats failed to score after the second inning. Crawfords starter Bill Harvey earned the win.
Game 5: Nationals 4, Crawfords 0
The Nationals bounced back from two straight losses with their second shutout of the series. González struck out nine and gave up one hit over seven innings. The Nats collected 13 hits, including 11 off Matlock, who lasted seven innings. LaRoche and Desmond homered for Washington.
Game 6: Crawfords 3, Nationals 2
In a game without any home runs, Washington outhit Pittsburgh, 10-4, but the Crawfords managed to send the series to a decisive Game 7. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Williams and Gibson drove in runs off Strasburg to stake the Crawfords to a 3-1 lead. The Nationals’ two-out comeback bid in the ninth -- Suzuki plated Steve Lombardozzi -- ended when Roger Bernadina grounded out with Desmond on third. Strasburg fanned four over six innings, and Hunter struck out seven over eight frames in the win.
Game 7: Nationals 4, Crawfords 3
The series came down to the wire. Washington took an early 2-0 lead and held Pittsburgh scoreless through seven innings. Zimmermann was cruising while Davis gave up 11 hits in seven frames. In the bottom of the eighth, with a runner on second, Harper misplayed Williams’ single and Bill Perkins scored. One batter later, Bell scored the tying run off a fly ball from Gibson, tying the game, 2-2, and marking the end of Zimmermann’s outing.
The Nationals were aggressive to start the ninth. The first two batters of the inning, Tyler Moore and Werth, got on base. Then Harper drove in Moore with a fly ball to give the Nats a 3-2 lead. The next batter, Zimmerman, flied out to left, and Werth scored the insurance run.
In the bottom of the ninth, Tyler Clippard allowed a solo home run to Sam Bankhead. Clippard retired the next two batters and earned the save.