Adam LaRoche celebrates scoring the winning run on Steve Lombardozzi’s sacrifice fly in Washington’s 3-2 comeback victory over the New York Mets on June 4, 2013 at Nationals Park.
Coming off an amazing 2012 season in which the Nationals shocked the baseball world by winning 98 games to capture the National League East title, hopes were high in Washington as the 2013 season began. The Nationals had fortified an already strong roster by trading for lead off man and centerfielder Denard Span, had added a veteran closer in Rafael Soriano and brought in solid starter Dan Haren to add to a young starting rotation that was already one of baseball’s bests.
Things did not start out well for the Nats in Davey Johnson’s final year at the helm of the team. Washington stumbled out of the gate and stood at 28-29 entering play on June 4, 2013, seven games behind the first place Atlanta Braves.
Facing the Nats this day four years ago was a New York Mets team that had also experienced problems in the early part of the 2013 season. The Mets came to Washington for a two game set sporting an unimpressive 22-32 record after having just been swept in a three game trip to Miami, being outscored by the Marlins 24-8 in the process.
On the mound for Washington in the game was Jordan Zimmermann, who was en route to his perhaps his finest season in a Nats’ uniform. The stoic righty finished 2013 with a 19-9 record and a 3.25 ERA, tying St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright for the most wins in the National League. Zimmermann’s effort earned him a fifth place finish in National League Cy Young Award voting that year.
Zimmermann did not disappoint on this evening, going eight innings and giving up only four hits while striking out four Mets. Unfortunately he left the game trailing 2-1, as errors by Zimmermann and Adam LaRoche gave the Mets two unearned runs in the top of the fifth.
With Mets closer Bobby Parnell looking to end the Mets’ three game losing skid, the heart of the Nats’ lineup ensured that the New Yorkers’ nightmare was far from over. Ryan Zimmerman led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. LaRoche atoned for his fifth inning error with a single to drive in Zimmerman, and the score was tied at 2-2. Ian Desmond, who had homered in the bottom of the second, continued the rally with a double to move LaRoche to third. With their options limited, the Mets chose to walk Roger Bernadina to set up a force at any base. Steve Lombardozzi was next up for Washington, and the scrappy infielder battled Parnell to a 2-2 count before hitting a liner to left field that was deep enough to score LaRoche with the winning run in a thrilling victory for the home team.
The 2013 Nats would never gain traction until the season’s final months in which they played .630 ball in winning 34 of their final 54 games. Washington finished 10 games behind Atlanta in the East, in large measure due to the Nats’ losing 13 of the 19 games played between the teams.