WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- In the Nationals locker room, there weren't champagne showers, or players chucking beer cans at each other like a frat party in the wee hours. Instead of being soaking wet this time, there was a smell: optimism. It was oozing out of the clubhouse like the aroma of freshly baked October pumpkin muffins.
Is calling Jayson Werth's walkoff home run, -- on a 13-pitch at-bat, against Lance Lynn, a reliever who owned the Nats -- the most meaningful single play D.C. sports has seen in the last 20 years, a knee-jerk reaction? I don't think so.
The frozen-rope to left field turned Nationals Park into an insane asylum -- the good kind. Droves of random people were hugging each other like long lost relatives. Fans were actually looking forward to a two-hour long metro ride home, so they could savor this memory with other curly 'W' adoring supporters. There were even some tears from the diehards. This type of moment doesn't happen with the Redskins anymore -- or better yet since 1991.
Because of the timing, because of stalemate the game had turned into, because it's against the defending world champions and because FINALLY, a humongous free agent acquisition came through when it mattered, I'll argue Werth's moment was the biggest sports play the city has seen since George H.W. Bush.
"This one's pretty fresh," replied Werth to how big this hit was in terms of his honorable postseason career. "This is, given the situation, you know, definitely pretty big."
Given the situation, a very appropriate term used by Werth.
While lauding the right fielder's at-bat as the most colossal D.C. sports moment in two decades, the situation doesn't happen without the flaming arms of Ross Detwiler, Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen. The latter of the three struck eight of the nine batters they faced, metamorphosing Nats Park into a college football stadium. The momentum was undeniable.
"That was loud as I've ever heard a place," Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said following the game.
After each breathtaking strikeout in the sequence, the escalating energy could be felt on the outskirts of town. St. Louis natives will blame the sputtering on home plate umpire Jim Joyce's erratic strike zone. It didn't matter though: the Cardinals were rattled.
"The job they did -- they rose to the occasion. All of them were throwing harder than I've seen them throw," beamed Davey Johnson in his presser.
It was Detwiler, the unlikeliest starter, the lefty referred to by some as 'the other guy,' the dude who happened to be Strasburg's replacement in the playoff rotation. Yeah, this inexperienced arm who revived the Nats from life support and proved that solving the St. Louis lineup isn't rocket science.
"I tell you, I was so proud of him. He pitched; he didn't start the game overthrowing. He pitched," praised Johnson of Detwiler.
Aside from the enduring baseball, Nationals players couldn't quite stop talking about the roaring crowd. Drew Storen had overflowing praise for the atmosphere.
"I've never seen or felt anything like this. And I've been to Caps playoff games, and [the energy] just doesn't compare," described the Nats closer of the 44,000-plus frenzied fans in Nats Park.
Storen's ninth inning relief appearance apparently wasn't his most solid contribution of the night. According to Storen's roommate Tyler Clippard, the closer accurately predicted Werth's walk-off bomb halfway through his at-bat.
"He elbowed me in the dugout and said 'He's going yard. He did this same exact thing to me in 2010 in Philly. Just watch.' And Drew was right," smiled Tyler Clippard, who silenced critics (like myself) in the eighth inning by striking out the meat of the Cardinals lineup -- Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig.
What would this story be without the face of the franchise, Ryan Zimmerman. The third basemen poetically accepted Senator's legend Frank Howard's first pitch, soaking in the atmosphere internally thinking, 'Hey, this could be me one day.'
Reporters could feel the emotion on Ryan Zimmerman's usually simple face, as he addressed several onslaughts of media barrage.
"We have a heart beat. I couldn't be more proud of Ross. For him to overcome his last couple of outings, with all the pressure of this situation. It was an unbelievable performance."
Lastly, how could we forget Ian Desmond's leaping snag halfway in left field during the ninth inning, saving what could have been the go-ahead clinching Cardinals run. Desmond emerged with the ball in his glove, patrolling no-mans-land like a Navy Seal.
Tomorrow night the madness will continue at Nats Park. The momentum will be just as important, too. Unsung heroes -- Detwiler, Tyler Moore and some would argue Jayson Werth -- have been the narrative of the Nats success in the NLDS.
Predicting a similar unlikely pioneer to emerge in game 5 Friday night will be tough to gauge. But now, optimistic Washington D.C. is ready to believe any Nationals player could become that guy.