2014: Same lineup, new manager, a second postseason run
After a disappointing year in 2013, the selection of Matt Williams as the Nationals' new manager was received very well, and the team began the season with high hopes for making it to the postseason. Former Tiger pitcher Doug Fister was signed during the off-season, but he was hurt during spring training and did not play until May. Catcher Wilson Ramos hurt himself in Game 1, and was out for several weeks. Next, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper both injured a thumb sliding into a base, and both missed several weeks of play. Even though the Nats started the season off with a bang, including grand slams by Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond, the depleted team fell out of first place during mid-April. They improved during June, and surged into first place by mid-July. The acquisition of infielder Asdrubal Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians proved to be a timely, after yet another injury to Ryan Zimmerman. The Nats went on a ten-game winning streak in mid-August, and achieved an even higher winning percentage in September, finishing the season 17 games ahead of the second-place Braves. But fate once again turned against them in the postseason, as they lost the National League Division Series to the San Francisco Giants three games to one, with each loss by a one-run margin. Most heartbreaking was NLDS Game 2, when the Giants tied it 1-1 in the top of the ninth inning, and in the 18th inning, Brandon Belt homered for the Giants, who won it, 2-1. The Nats won Game 3, in San Francisco, but the Giants took Game 4, savoring their triumph at home.
|CF: Denard Span .302|
|LF: Bryce Harper .273
Ryan Zimmerman .280
|RF: Jayson Werth .292|
|SS: Ian Desmond .255||2B: Danny Espinosa .219
Asdrubal Cabrera* .229
|3B: Anthony Rendon.287||1B: Adam LaRoche .259|
|C: Wilson Ramos .267
Jose Lobaton .234
|Batting average for position players, ERA for pitchers.
Manager: Matt Williams *
|* (asterisk): new player;|
- Jordan Zimmermann (AE) -- 2 years, $24 million (Jan.)
- Ian Desmond (AE) -- 2 years, $17.5 million (Jan.)
New contracts of note
"+" = bonus incentives for salary, or optional extension (mutual or otherwise) for contract length. "D" = part of salary is deferred. "AE" = arbitration eligible. "FA" = free agent signing. Dollar figures are rounded.
|Batting average||Home runs||RBIs||ERA||Wins||Strikeouts|
|Denard Span||.302||Adam LaRoche||26||Adam LaRoche||92||Doug Fister||2.41||Doug Fister||16||Stephen Strasburg||242|
- April 9 -- After Marlins take 5-0 lead, Bryce Harper homers and Jayson Werth hits a grand slam; WSH 10, MIA 7
- April 23 -- Nats score 4 runs in bottom of the 9th, thus averting being swept by the Angels; WSH 5, LAA 4
- May 31 -- Nats hit 4 home runs, racking up 19 runs in two days against the Rangers; WSH 10, TEX 2.
- June 8 -- Jordan Zimmerman pitches complete game 2-hit shutout; WSH 6, SD 0. @
- June 13 -- Jordan Zimmerman pitches complete game, 3 hits in 8 innings, but loses; STL 1, WSH 0. @
- June 24 -- Nats get two runs in the top of the 16th inning to win; WSH 4, MIL 2. @
- July 5 -- Ryan Zimmerman goes 4 for 5, as Gio Gonzalez pitches 8 innings; WSH 13, CHC 0.
- July 20 -- Jayson Werth doubles in 9th inning after Rafael Soriano blew the save; WSH 5, MIL 4.
- August 7 -- Bryce Harper hits walk-off home run in 13th inning; WSH 5, NYM 3. @
- August 17 -- Blown save by Rafael Soriano, then Jayson Werth scores runs in 9th inning AND 11th inning. WSH 6, PIT 5.
- August 24 -- After Giants take 5-0 lead, Nats score 12 in 6th-8th innings, as B. Harper & D. Espinosa homer; WSH 14, SF 6.
- August 31 -- Nats hit SIX home runs, four of them off Mariners' ace Feliz Hernandez; WSH 8, SEA 3.
- Sept. 3 -- Adam LaRoche hits 2-run PH HR in 9th, then 2 RBIs in 12th & 1 in 14th; blown save by R. Soriano; WSH 8, LAD 5. @
- Sept. 28 -- Jordan Zimmermann pitches the first-ever Nationals no-hitter; WSH 1, MIA 0. I was there!
2014 memorable moments
"@" = away game
|Month||Wins||Losses||NL East place
|April 2014||16||12||2 (T)||17||491,404||28,906|
SOURCE: My unofficial daily tabulations from MLB Gameday stats, Washington Post, and other newspapers.