It was the bottom of the eighth. The Nationals’ season, even though nobody would’ve cared to say so after the game in the clubhouse, hung in the balance.
Down 1-0 in a best-of-5 NLDS to the Chicago Cubs, Washington was in a 3-1 hole, and had only put up two hits the entire game, and only four in the series. After Oliver Perez had escaped a minor jam, Dusty Baker decided to pinch hit one of the best pinch hitters in Nationals history, 1B/OF Adam Lind.
Lind went down 0-2 against Cubs’ righty Carl Edwards Jr. — who had set the Nats down in order the night before — before slashing a single into left field. Baker then replaced Lind with Robles at first, a threat to steal. As it turns out, it didn’t matter:
No doubt. #OnePursuit pic.twitter.com/hdepkmVxKF— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 8, 2017
A hanging curveball from Edwards Jr. was more than enough, as it turned out, for Bryce Harper to essentially single-handedly turn the Nats’ chances of winning the NLDS around:
The Nationals’ percent chance to win the *series* went from 18.5% to 33.3% as a result of Harper’s home run.— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) October 8, 2017
Biggest play of the postseason (.037 cWPA)https://t.co/24ElxzY7o7https://t.co/fdMaJ1irRY pic.twitter.com/gewxXlpaC6— Dan Hirsch (@DanHirsch) October 8, 2017
So, with the ballgame knotted up at three, Anthony Rendon came to the plate, working a walk to put a man on first for Daniel Murphy, who lined a single into left field, bringing Ryan Zimmerman to the plate:
Mr. National! #OnePursuit pic.twitter.com/oDSGDtIcDI— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 8, 2017
After Zimmerman HR: Nats’ chance to win the series is now 47.2%. That’s almost a 30% jump in one half inning. https://t.co/6u5P2CW7f9— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) October 8, 2017
According to the same site, the Nationals now have a 48.3% chance of winning the NLDS. According to FiveThirtyEight, it rests at 49%. Before we go any further, though, enjoy these videos and photos of one of the best moments in Nationals history.
Show us how you really feel, Bryce. #NLDS pic.twitter.com/D5rUZzza5f— MLB (@MLB) October 8, 2017
Here's the radio call of both Bryce and Zim's homers, synced with the video. pic.twitter.com/k5QIIomWUi— Jacob Rasch (@serious_jammage) October 8, 2017
It will never cease to amaze me that when Bryce Harper makes contact his back foot lifts off the ground. This is his swing on the home run. pic.twitter.com/dBvB9yL0CS— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 8, 2017
Great game @Nationals !!!!— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) October 8, 2017
Nats score shown at Cap One pic.twitter.com/4UG2DJzyDy— Michael DiVenere (@mikeyd2933) October 8, 2017
TWO FOR ONE FOR THE NATS!— Titanic Baseball⚾️ (@TitanicBaseball) October 8, 2017
BRYCE HARPER'S TYING HOME RUN AND RYAN ZIMMERMAN'S GO AHEAD HOME RUN ARE BOTH EVEN BETTER W/TITANIC MUSIC!
Now, it’s a best of three. With Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer going in two of the games. As the story was the previous two games, it’ll all fall on the offense — the Nats can only hope that the eighth inning loosened up the team.