Jayson Werth made two unforgettable contributions to the Nationals on Sunday evening. First, he knocked a bases-loaded two-run, bottom-of-the-ninth single, giving the Nats a walk-off win and a series sweep over the Phillies. Then, even more importantly, he referred to an unspecified teammate as The D.C. Strangler.
And if you put together the pieces — not terribly many members of the Nationals have earned national headlines involving strangling — Werth would appear to be referring to the man who might have been the losing pitcher Sunday night, but instead turned into the winning pitcher.
To recap, Jonathan Papelbon — who has struggled against his ex-team this season — came into a 3-3 game in the ninth inning and promptly gave up a leadoff home run. With questions about his closing role already swirling, this wasn’t a great result, and the Nats Park crowd treated him with boos.
But the Nationals rallied, loading the bases with a Bryce Harper infield single, a great bit of opposite-field magic from Danny Espinosa and a well-earned Clint Robinson walk. Then came Werth, jersey buttons unbuttoned and hair flying about in the steady breeze. He smacked a 2-2 pitch up the middle, and after his game-winning hit, he kept running, winding up in the far reaches of right field, where teammates finally surrounded him and gave him the business.
“Man, you got battered out there,” noted MASN’s Dan Kolko, after the celebration finally ended. “What type of damage did they do to you in the outfield?”
“Well, I knew I was in trouble when I saw The Strangler coming at me,” Werth noted, as their interview played live at Nats Park.
“Who’s The Strangler?” Kolko asked, the pitch-perfect straight man, setting up Werth’s second walk-off moment of the night.
“You know, The D.C. Strangler,” Werth said again, and then Kolko and thousands of people at home and 34,294 fans at Nats Park suddenly realized that he was referring to Jonathan Papelbon as The D.C. Strangler, and that everything was wonderful.
“Ohhhh,” Kolko said. “We’ll move off that.”
Truth be told, the interview didn’t really get much worse when Werth was asked about his final at-bat.
“Oh man, I’m just trying to go brain dead up there, that’s about it,” Werth said. Then he grabbed the mic.
“That’s what dreams are made of. Let’s go!” he said, and walked away. But fans weren’t yet done with the moment.
It is my sincere belief that calling Papelbon "The DC Strangler" will cut his ERA by half a run. The nickname always makes the man.
— Andrew Flax (@AndrewFlaxTNB) June 12, 2016
Werth's "DC Strangler" comment is a window in the MLB clubhouse. They laugh about stuff you might think is deadly serious.
— Half St Heart Blog (@HalfStreetHeart) June 12, 2016
I'm still laughing at the DC Strangler. Might be a new shirsey coming my way
— Dr. Reo Symes (@WZTSTC) June 12, 2016
Did you see how hard Harper ran to first today?
— DC Strangler (@DCStrangler) June 12, 2016