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Washington Nationals clinch home field in NL Wild Card Game... still waiting for opponent

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Washington’s Nationals will have to wait until tonight to learn which team they’ll be playing in Tuesday night’s NL Wild Card Game.

Cleveland Indians v Washington Nationals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this past Wednesday that he would, of course, prefer that the Nats play the NL Wild Card game in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday for a variety of reasons.

“I think it’s important,” Rizzo said, as the Nationals came close to earning the right to play at home against whichever team takes the second spot this week, whether it be Milwaukee or St. Louis, though it looked at the time like it was likely to be the Brewers.

“I think it’s a credit to our fanbase,” the GM added.

“I think that they deserve it, and they’ve earned it. And I think that it’s important for them.

“And just strategically to win a baseball game, you have a better chance of winning a home game than a road game, and the Brewers play well at home. When that dome closes it gets really loud in there, and I think it’s important to try to win out, to play a home game not only baseball-wise but for our fanbase because they’ve earned it and they deserve it.”

The Brewers finished the regular season home schedule with a 49-32 record in Miller Park, with wins in nine of their last ten games in Milwaukee.

Brian Dozier, who played there last October with the Los Angeles Dodgers, said it was unlike any park he’d played in in his career in the postseason.

“It’s the most electric stadium I’ve ever been a part of my whole career,” Dozier said this week, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.

“When you pack that stadium, it was electric and it gets so loud. I think just the fact of us trying to stay here and not -- I’m not saying we can’t win there by any means -- but I think it’s important we try to stay here, for sure.”

“Would it be nice?” to play at home, Nationals’ starter Max Scherzer asked rhetorically, as quoted by NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas as the ace discussed getting the nod for the Wild Card Game.

“Yes. But is it imperative? No. We’re ready to play anybody, anywhere. We get it. It’s most likely going to be the Brewers. Obviously, they’re a tough opponent, but we’re ready to play anybody, anywhere.”

Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said before this afternoon’s game against Cleveland’s Indians that he wanted to lock up home field so the Nationals could just know where they’re going to play either way. One win in either of their last two games guaranteed Tuesday’s matchup would be in D.C.

“Let’s focus on winning today so we stay at home, and that will be huge,” Martinez said, and then they can worry about who they’re going to play, whether it’s the Brewers or Cardinals if the Cards ended up losing the NL Central in the last two days.

“I’d like to stay at home and play here and not have to sit around and worry about where we’re going, so let’s just win today, and then we’ll worry about that. I’ve been talking, last night, talking to some analytical guys about both teams, and scouts, and I’m just trying to figure out — the biggest thing is seeing what their roster is going to look like, and their pitchers, and trying to see how we match up.”

More than any other concerns though, Martinez said, he’s just excited for postseason play.

“It’s freaking awesome,” he beamed. “I love it. It’s a lot of fun. Getting guys ready, man, we’re going to the postseason. That’s awesome.”

Washington’s 10-7 win over Cleveland on Saturday made it official. The Wild Card Game will be played in Nationals Park on Tuesday night at 8:08 PM EDT.

“It’s awesome,” Martinez said after the game.

“I don’t have to go home and pack. Nice to stay at home. The boys wanted to stay at home, so they played — just came out and swung the bats and... here we go Tuesday.”

“It’s going to be fun,” Patrick Corbin said after starting in the Nats’ win in the second of three with the Indians in D.C., which guaranteed the postseason will start in Nationals Park.

“We’re excited to play in front of them. I think anybody would want to play in front of their home [crowd] in a do or die game, so we’re looking for that. Hopefully — well I know that they’ll be there, they’ll be loud and have our backs.”

St. Louis and Milwaukee both lost on Saturday night, so a Cardinals’ win on Sunday gives them the division, and a Brewers’ win and Cards’ loss means they will play on Monday to decide who’s in the NLDS and who’s headed to Washington on Tuesday night.