With one loud swing of his bat, Howie Kendrick quieted the Dodger Stadium crowd and exorcised the Washington Nationals’ four playoff series’ worth of demons. Kendrick’s 10th-inning grand slam off reliever Joe Kelly broke a 3-3 tie and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ spirit, lifting Washington into the National League Championship Series for the first time.
The second extra-innings grand slam in postseason history touched off a dance party in the Nationals dugout and an equally euphoric celebration some 2,500 miles away at Nationals Park, the site of Washington’s three previous Game 5 losses, where a few thousand fans gathered to watch another winner-take-all contest on the video board hoping that this time would be different. It was.
The last Metro train had left the Navy Yard station about an hour earlier, but an impressive number of people were still at the free watch party when Kendrick delivered the biggest hit in Nationals history at 12:23 a.m. The ballpark’s submarine horns blared after Kendrick’s blast, which everyone knew was at least deep enough to score the go-ahead run, disappeared over the center field wall. Fans jumped up and down in the aisles and waved red rally towels. They high-fived and hugged loved ones and complete strangers. They laughed. They screamed. No doubt some cried.
Here are a few of the best videos of the moment Kendrick became a Nationals legend. (Be warned that there’s some excited swearing.)
The scenes at Dodger Stadium and Nationals Park after Michael A. Taylor made a diving catch for the final out were pretty great, too.
At The Bullpen on Half Street, where more fans gathered to watch the game, beer — and F-bombs — went flying as Kendrick rounded the bases.
In Nashville, where the Nats-loving Capitals arrived for a Thursday game with the Predators, Capitals radio play-by-play man John Walton and his colleagues went wild at a bar after Kendrick broke the tie. Remember, it’s okay to believe.
In Cincinnati, die-hard Nationals fan Paul Fritschner, who five years ago was the first person in line for the Jayson Werth garden gnome giveaway at Nats Park, could hardly believe his eyes or contain his excitement. His giddy laughter prompted his cousin’s dog to growl. (Forget a gnome; fans should be waiting in line for the unveiling of a Kendrick statue next season.)
Props to this very excited Nationals fan for ending his recording at the perfect moment. Holy shiii, indeed.
At Dodger Stadium, the reaction from most fans mimicked that of dejected Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who gave up solo home runs to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto on consecutive pitches in the eighth inning to tie the game. For the pockets of Nationals fans in attendance, however, the moment was pure jubilation.
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