With last night’s win, the Nats are one game behind the Cardinals — which, given the way last week’s series went, sort of feels hard to believe. Not that it means anything at this point, of course, but anything that distracts from the impending doom of the Wild Card game helps.
Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
Justice Sotomayor to throw out first pitch for Nationals on Thursday (NBCSW)
Sotomayor, the "woman who saved baseball" during the 1994 strike, will throw out the first pitch tonight as a part of Hispanic Heritage Day. If she doesn't throw it to Juan Soto — who is in the ligas mayores (yes, it's a stretch) — then something has gone seriously wrong.
Nats give regulars rest without paying a price (MLB.com)
“I still want to play these games to win,” manager Dave Martinez said prior to the Nats’ 5-2 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday night at Nationals Park. “But we’ve got to be smart about getting guys some days off.”
Nats keep home field hopes alive with another win (MASN)
The hangover lineup, as it turns out, wasn't all too hungover: Wilmer Difo, filling in for Trea Turner, provided the decisive blow, and Brian Dozier, who was definitively hungover, put on the tack-on run.
Nationals’ wild-card game roster (WaPo)
Most of it makes sense for a playoff series, but the Nats need to put together a lineup that can guarantee them–or come close to securing— a win on October 1st. With the craziest possible scenarios in mind, the Nats will likely put all four of their frontline starters on the team and leave a few relievers off—would you rather have Aníbal Sánchez or Austin Voth in the top of the 12th? Also, if Scherzer doesn't last six innings, then the Nats have a serious problem, though they could hypothetically just hand the ball to Stephen Strasburg — and the team should definitely stack up on righty bench bats given Josh Hader's potential for a multi-inning appearance.
Brian Dozier stole the show during Nats’ booze-soaked clinch party (WaPo)
Brian Dozier took his love of Pedro Capo's "Calma" to new heights on Tuesday night (Vamos pa' la playa/Pa' curarte el alma/Cierra la pantalla/Abre la medalla!). Plus, Baby Shark, the conga, and Victor Robles's craziness.
Nats GM Mike Rizzo credits Dave Martinez, ‘special group’ for playoff berth (WaPo)
Mike Rizzo, drenched in beer by Tanner Rainey and Paul Menhart, was responsible for much of salvaging what looked like a lost season — but he gave most of the credit to the clubhouse and Davey Martinez.
Bryce Harper's Nats chapter closed with playoff clinch (WaPo)
At the beginning of the year, Bryce Harper sounded like he was trying to figure out what had gone wrong, why he wasn't wearing a Nationals uniform; at the end, he's calmly and happily settled into Philadelphia. The transition year is over; he is no longer former National Bryce Harper — he is a Phillie, through and through.
Bryce Harper fed up with taunts from Nationals fans: ‘It’s not right’ (WaPo)
In right field, Nats fans spent the late innings heckling Bryce Harper — and finally, something they said got to him, a point he made clear to the media after the game.
Harper - Nationals fans' heckling crossed the line (ESPN)
"They were fine all game, talking about myself and things like that," Harper said. "I get it everywhere I go. That's nothing new. But the last two innings, it's just not right. It's not right."
Posnanski’s Baseball Things: Mike Trout and the MVP race, contemplating the Cubs’ future and more – The Athletic
"The Nationals wrapped up a spot in the wild-card game on Tuesday, and it could be a home game (they’re a game up on the Brewers). So the questions are: (1) If the Nationals actually win the game, does that count as a playoff series victory? and (2) Can this team with three incredible starters and a fantastic offense led by the brilliant duo of Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto actually make some noise in the playoffs?"
Nationals keep winning, top Phillies, 5-2 (WaPo)
The most heartening piece of the night was Sean Doolittle's first save since mid-August — equally heartening, though, were days off for Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon.
Sanchez solid part of the Nats' big four after his third straight win (MASN)
Aníbal Sánchez has won 11 of his last 13 decisions and impressed yet again last night over seven innings, only allowing two runs.
Press release: Nationals announce 2019 Minor League awards (MLB.com)
Yadiel Hernandez, the player of the year, didn't get the call-up, but dominated in Fresno all season long and may well get a shot at a bench spot at the start of next season.