News & Politics

Jayson Werth’s Home Run Lets DC Keep Playing

His game-winning run electrified the stadium. Let’s see if the team can pull it off again.

Jayson Werth. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Keith Allison.

It was chaos. It was utter chaos. I threw an $8 beer in the air and nobody blinked.

The moments immediately following
Jayson Werth’s game-winning home run had me hugging random grown men and high-fiving cops. For
a flash of time the atmosphere went beyond jubilation—it was ecstasy, brought on in
a way only sports can deliver.

For Werth, it must have been incredible. Loaded with the baggage of a large contract,
he’d had to deal with countless taunts and insults for what at times was poor performance.
To hit the biggest home run in the history of the Washington Nationals franchise had
to serve as some form of redemption.

And for the Nats, Werth’s home run means even more.

Locked in a tie in Game 4 of the National League Division Series—coming off an embarrassing
loss and with an offense that was lackluster at best—the Nats did not want to go to
extra innings. If they lost this game, the Nats’ dream season was over. With a win,
they’d get to keep playing.

On a day when the team needed good pitching, they got it.
Ross Detwiler gave the Nats a great start, and manager
Davey Johnson displayed some of his baseball genius when he tabbed starter
Jordan Zimmermann for an inning of relief work. ZNN looked sharp, as did
Tyler Clippard and
Drew Storen after him.

The stage was set for heroics, and Werth delivered.

His walk-off homer brings the Nats to an all-or-nothing Game 5. Tonight. Against defending
World Series champs the St. Louis Cardinals.

More heroics will be necessary for the Nats to advance. Certainly they need a strong
pitching performance from ace starter
Gio Gonzalez. I expect they’ll get it. But the Nats also need their batters to show up, which
hasn’t been the case for most of this series. The Cardinals are experienced playoff
winners; tonight will be no easy feat.

Throughout the regular season, Washington showed resolve, not getting down after losses
and winning plenty of tight contests. But last night Werth proved the Nats can do
it in the playoffs. Perhaps that can serve to remind this Nats team just how good
they are.

This is what October baseball feels like. Any pitch can break your heart. Every at-bat
carries the hopes of a city.

In the ninth inning, Werth showed why the Nats signed him. It was a professional at-bat:
Werth was patient despite having two strikes, fought off the tough stuff, and when
the right pitch came, he crushed it.

It sent the stadium into hysteria. It sent the Nats to Game 5. Let’s hope he does
it again.

Find JP Finlay on Twitter @jpfinlay.