Matt Wieters had already endeared himself well enough to Washington D.C. and to Nationals fans over the team’s first 33 games. After his role in their 7-6 win against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night, he might be viewed as a savior.
The switch-hitting catcher capped the Nationals three-run ninth-inning rally with a two-run walk-off single, which guaranteed Washington D.C. sports fans would have something to feel good about amid a painful night.
Just prior to Wieters’ heroics, the Washington Capitals lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-0, in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals, ending their dream for a Stanley Cup championship.
Around the same time, the Washington Wizards were in the process of being blown out by the Boston Celtics in Game of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Wizards would ultimately fall 123-101, which gives Boston a 3-2 series lead.
Had the Nationals fallen to the Orioles, Washington D.C. would have gone to 0-3 on the night. Worse than that, the Nationals would have lost three straight to their Beltway Series rivals with a potential four-game sweep looming on Thursday.
Needless to say, that wasn’t an ideal scenario. Particularly for Wieters, who left the Orioles this winter after they elected to not extend a qualifying offer. After hanging in limbo most of the winter, Wieters finally signed with Washington late in February. If there was any frustration left over from that situation — and we’re assuming there had to be — he vented it properly on Wednesday night.
The interleague series started in Baltimore on Monday, where Wieters was welcomed back to Camden Yards with open arms by Orioles fans. The Nationals dropped each of the two games by a total of three runs, which only added to the team’s collective frustration, before rebounding to overcome a four-run eighth-inning deficit on Wednesday night.
Based on the action we’ve seen so far in the Beltway Series, you won’t get any complaints from us if it proves to be a World Series preview.
The teams look evenly matched on paper, at least from a lineup standpoint. Their 22-11 (Orioles) and 22-12 (Nationals) records bear that out too. There’s plenty of star power between them with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Max Scherzer and Adam Jones, just to name a few. Not to mention the natural rivalry that exists given their close proximity.
There’s a long season ahead, but the seeds have been planted for a potential classic if these teams can survive the grind.
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