With their 90th win of the season, the Washington Nationals clinched their third National League East championship in the last five years.
Davey Johnson in 2012, Matt Williams in 2014 and now Dusty Baker in 2016 have taken them this far, but as Baker made clear to MASN’s Dan Kolko as he celebrated Saturday night in the visiting clubhouse in PNC Park, it’s just the first step.
“It’s very meaningful,” Baker said. “I expected this, you know what I mean? I’ve been here before. And I wanted to celebrate tonight and then get it over with, get back to work, because this is the first step in a four-step process. We like this and we want to do this three more times and then hopefully be the World Champions.”
Jayson Werth has been with the Nationals for all three of the division titles, and he’ll be heading to the postseason for the eighth time in his fourteen-year major league career.
“We’ve got to do this,” Werth said of clinching a postseason berth and NL East crown, and, he added, “...we’ve got to get through this, but there’s so much more.
“We’ve done this a few times here since I’ve been here, I just want to go further, man, I want to get it done this year.”
What, he was asked, do he and his teammates have to do in order to get to where they all want to go?
“We’ve got to beat everybody else,” Werth deadpanned. “We’ve got to kick everybody else’s ass.”
Just gonna leave this here ... pic.twitter.com/ZoYbsvsmDH— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 25, 2016
With Saturday’s win, the Nationals improved to 90-64 overall, earning their 12th win of the month, and leaving them three wins short of the monthly goal their manager set for them in Spring Training.
“All year long we wanted to win fifteen games a month,” Baker said. “Now we’re at 90 [wins] and hopefully we can get hot right before the playoffs.”
Bryce Harper, just 23, has been around for all three of the Nationals’ division titles, and he knows that it’s just the start.
“This is the first step to where we want to go,” Harper said, “and we’re going to enjoy it tonight and get back to work when we need to.”
This is why Max Scherzer signed with the Nationals. They fell short of a return to the postseason in his first season in D.C., but now he’s headed back to the playoffs.
“When I signed here, one of the first things that I said at the press conference is, “I want to win,” Scherzer said, between puffs off a celebratory cigar.
“I came here because I thought we could win and nothing has deterred me from that thought. We came out here in ‘16, we won the division. No it’s time to go on and do bigger and better things.”
“This is what I came here for,” Baker said.
“This is what I expected. I think this is what these guys expected too.
“From Spring Training we talked about where we wanted to go, what we had to do, and they worked hard for it and this is something.”