clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Washington Nationals clinch NL Wild Card spot with win over Philly; Chicago Cubs’ loss...

New, comments

Washington’s Nationals waited on the field after they beat Philly tonight, and a Chicago Cubs’ loss clinched it for the Nats, who are going to play in the Wild Card game next week...

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

“All you need is just a ticket to the dance,” Sean Doolittle told reporters when asked about the Washington Nationals closing in on clinching a spot in the NL Wild Card game earlier this evening.

“Once you’re in,” Doolittle said, “... anything can happen, you know, you win that game and that can be the momentum that carries you through the next few weeks into a deep run, so I just think with everything that happened this season and the way that we’ve played in the second half, we’re going to enjoy it.”

The Wild Card game isn’t ideal of course, and the Nationals were focused on trying to win the division until it was no longer a possibility.

Patrick Corbin talked after a somewhat surprising 2-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in late August, about how that game was a perfect example of why the NL East crown was more desirable than a spot in the Wild Card.

“That’s why I think winning your division is so important,” Corbin told reporters in Nationals Park. “If you’ve got one game, anything can happen.”

Atlanta’s Braves effectively locked the division up earlier this month, however, separating themselves from the rest of their competition, and then officially locked up their second straight NL East title over the weekend.

After faltering at the beginning of the month, the Nationals settled down and got back on track, and going into tonight’s nightcap of their doubleheader with the Phillies, the magic number to lock down one of the two Wild Card spots was down to 2.

Once they clinched it, the Nationals would be just the ninth team in MLB history to come back from 12 games under .500, (where they were on May 23rd, when they fell to 19-31 on the season following a four-game sweep in Citi Field), to make the postseason, joining the 1914 Boston Braves, 1973 New York Mets, 1975 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1981 Kansas City Royals, 1989 Toronto Blue Jays, 2005 Houston Astros, 2009 Colorado Rockies, and the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We’ve got to take care of business, and that’s down the road,” Trea Turner said of the Wild Card after the Nationals’ 4-1 win over the Phillies in the first of two on Tuesday, “but I think to be in the situation we’re in from where we started, is pretty incredible, and I think we always believed and we knew it was going to be a possibility and or going to happen, but to finally see other people see it as well it’s nice, so gotta keep doing what we’re doing, playing great and we’ll see.”

“We’ve been having dress rehearsals for the playoffs since like May,” Doolittle added, and when reporters laughed, he spoke up.

“No, I’m being serious,” the reliever said.

“We had our backs so far up against the wall, so early in the season, I really feel like we’ve kind of played out every possible scenario that might come up.”

Turner hit a grand slam in the sixth inning in the nightcap with the Phillies, putting the Nats up 6-5, and they held on for the win while the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs in PNC Park, eliminating the Cubbies from contention and guaranteeing the Nationals a spot in the NL Wild Card game next week.