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Wire Taps: NL East Champion Nationals welcomed back to the nation's capital

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The Washington Nationals wrapped up their four-game set in Marlins Park with their fourth straight win in Miami and flew home to the nation's capital where an appreciative crowd of fans was waiting to celebrate what the Nats accomplished on the road.

Sign at Dulles International Airport welcoming the Washington Nationals back to the nation's capital.
Sign at Dulles International Airport welcoming the Washington Nationals back to the nation's capital.
Photo © @Nationals on Twitter

With four straight wins in Miami's Marlins Park, the Washington Nationals wrapped up their 11-game road trip with a 9-2 record.

They're now 10-5 against their NL East rivals from Florida with four games left between the teams in 2014.

The Nats finished their last road trip with a 45-36 record away from Washington this season.

With seven games left in the nation's capital before they start their second postseason run in the last three seasons, the Nats are 46-28 at home in Nationals Park.

"We won some close ones. Pitching was good. That certainly will keep you in any ballgame. You have those guys toe the rubber every day you've got a chance." -Matt Williams on the Nationals' road trip

Through 20 games in September, the Nats are 14-6 and going strong in the final month of the regular season.

Sweeping the four-game set with the Fish was, "really important," according to Nats' skipper Matt Williams, who spoke to reporters after the Nationals' 2-1 win on Sunday.

"Good road trip for us," Williams said. "Against some teams that have been playing well and especially here in a place where they play very good at home. We won some close ones. Pitching was good. That certainly will keep you in any ballgame. You have those guys toe the rubber every day you've got a chance. So, we did enough to win, which is good."

Stephen Strasburg, who earned the win with seven scoreless innings in the series finale, said it's important that the Nationals keep going strong after sweeping the Marlins.

"It's huge," Strasburg said. "Just got to keep the train rolling."

After beating the Marlins on Sunday, the Nationals boarded a plane and flew back to Washington, D.C., returning home after a road trip on which they clinched the NL East Division crown.

When they landed, they were greeted by a welcoming message...

... and an appreciative crowd that turned up at Nats Park to celebrate what the Nationals accomplished while they were away:

The Nationals have the day off today, but they're back in action against the New York Mets on Tuesday night.

Until then, links and lots of them starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "They are searching for tendencies, intricacies and strategy they may not see during a typical four-day scouting session, the nuggets that could turn a season." - "Scouts for the Nationals turns their eyes toward the MLB playoffs" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "The Nationals thus wrapped up a 9-2 road trip, sweeping the Marlins in a 4-game series for the first time in club history, and reducing their magic number to secure the NL’s best record to 4." - "Instant analysis: Nats 2, Marlins 1" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Though manager Matt Williams' Sunday lineup, which gave five regulars the day off, drew some criticism from the commenters on our blogs, the reserves came through in the fifth." - "Nationals Pastime: Clubhouse chatter after Nats finish 9-2 road trip with 2-1 win" - Pete Kerzel, MASNSports.com

• "Sunday afternoon, Strasburg overwhelmed the Miami Marlins for seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and walking two while striking out five." - "Stephen Strasburg pitching like the Nationals’ Game 1 starter" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Strasburg is due to make one more tune-up start this week at home, and then the baseball world will finally get its chance to see the most-hyped pitching draft pick in decades take the mound under the sport’s brightest lights." - "As October approaches, Strasburg and Nationals are peaking" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "The Nationals capped an 11-game road trip with a 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Sunday, finishing the three-city journey with a 9-2 record." - "Stephen Strasburg leads Nationals to 2-1 win over Marlins" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Barrett came to spring training this year having never pitched above Class AA Harrisburg, given a locker at the far end of the Nationals’ clubhouse in Viera, one typically reserved for guys who are the first to be cut from camp." - "Aaron Barrett excited for expanded role in Nationals’ playoff bullpen" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "He hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight appearances. Opponents are hitting .143 against him. And better yet, he has walked only one of the 22 batters he has faced." - "Aaron Barrett making a case for postseason bullpen spot" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "This club has done a really nice job of setting its goals and then going about accomplishing them as the season goes on." - "Nationals benefiting from meaningful baseball in late September" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Although the Nationals are still competing for the NL's best record -- and home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series -- the game also has big-picture meaning to the Mets..." - "New York Mets at Washington Nationals - September 23, 2014" - Tim Healey, MLB.com Preview

• "LaRoche understands it’s not so much about him. He’s having the typical Adam LaRoche season: 25 homers, approaching 90 RBI, an .814 OPS that’s a mere 3 points better than his career average." - "Knowing the Nats are unlikely to re-sign him, LaRoche hungry for title" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "With the playoffs looming, Nationals players have surely shoved aside personal accolades. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep track." - "Nationals milestones within reach" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• Your Daily Message from the Dalai Lama on Twitter:

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "Strasburg exited the game after seven innings, having struck out five and allowing three hits. He needed just 84 pitches to get through it." - "Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins - September 21, 2014" - Maria Torres, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "It wasn't a victory, but it certainly was a positive step forward for Nathan Eovaldi." - "Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins - September 21, 2014" - Joe Frisaro, MLB.com MIA Recap

• "Rafael Soriano converted his 32nd save today against the Marlins, but the first since September 5th." - "Bullpen Report: September 21, 2014" - Benjamin Pasinkoff, FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball

• "Bryce Harper’s act is hard to stomach, but Stephen Strasburg did every Expos fan in the world a favour Sunday by leading the Nats to a four-game sweep of Jeffrey Loria’s Marlins with a 2-1 win in Miami." - "Montreal has a shot at MLB team" - Jack Todd, Montreal Gazette

• "The following year, 1884, Toledo moved up to the major leagues, playing against teams such as the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals and Brooklyn Atlantics as part of the American Assn." - "First black player in major leagues? Hint: It wasn't Jackie Robinson" - Zach Helfand, LA Times.com

• "Nate Karns made his Rays debut on September 12th against the Toronto Blue Jays and delivered 7-plus shutout innings." - "Nate Karns Believes His Stuff Plays At Big League Level" - Steve Kinsella, Sports Talk Florida

• "The Cardinals won’t be favored to repeat as league champs; the Washington Nationals likely deserve the status." - "Resilient Cards enter familiar time of year" - Joe Strauss, St. Louis Today

• "The Washington Nationals still have a handful of regular-season games to go this week into next weekend, but a big focus is going toward the National League Division Series." - "8 things to start your Monday, and a rush for Nats tickets for National League Division Series run" - Bob Niedt, Washington Business Journal

• NATSTOWN:

• "The Nats have a really solid starting lineup, but they are facing a couple of big decisions here." - "Nats’ post-season roster: The position players" - Nat Anacostia, Nats Noodles

• "Behind seven stellar innings from ace Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 2-1 on Sunday." - "Washington Nationals Game 155 Review: Strasburg shuts down Marlins" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Often criticized, Stephen Strasburg reminded everyone today why he should start Game 1 of the NLDS for the Washington Nationals..." - "Strasburg Stifles Marlins as Nats Sweep" - Andrew Flax, The Nats Blog

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Braves: "Veteran baseball man John Hart, who was brought in by the Braves as a consultant, could take an increased role, as Peter Gammons of MLB Network first reported." - "Braves weigh changes; longtime GM Frank Wren's role appears in peril" - Jon Heyman, CBSSports.com

Marlins: "As far as the Marlins have come in 2014, the just completed four-game series against the National League East champion Nationals was a humbling reminder of how far they have to go." - "Miami Marlins lose game to Nationals, Ozuna to ankle injury" - Juan C. Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel

Phillies: "Kyle Kendrick will likely make his final start as a Phillie on Wednesday when the team will be in Miami to take on the Marlins." - "David Buchanan Could be the Next Kyle Kendrick" - Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley

Mets: "Still, Tejada's future with the Mets may lie as a backup. He has had some success in that job since being displaced by Flores." - "Is Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada better suited as backup?" - Mike Vorkunov, NJ.com