Going into Sunday afternoon’s games, the St. Louis Cardinals were a win away from a spot in the NLDS. A Cardinals’ loss and Milwaukee Brewers’ win, and the NL Central clubs would have had to battle for the division crown on Monday night, with the loser playing in D.C. on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Nationals were waiting around to find out which team would be traveling to the nation’s capital for the NL Wild Card Game as they played game No. 162 of 162.
Before the series finale with the Cleveland Indians, some Nats talked about at least knowing that they were playing at home on Tuesday.
“Obviously we would like to play here [rather] than anywhere else, but we’re just happy to be in,” Ryan Zimmerman told reporters in the Nationals’ clubhouse.
“And at this point we’re going to have to win games everywhere and in all situations.
“Obviously really happy and excited to play here, but at the end of the day we’re going to have to win everywhere.”
Davey Martinez said he was just happy to know that they didn’t have to travel anywhere and would have the Wild Card game at home, whoever the opponent would be.
“What I know is we’re playing Tuesday, regardless of who it is, we’ve got to play Tuesday, and we’ve got to show up and play baseball,” Martinez said.
The second-year skipper did say on Saturday, however, that the Nationals were hard at work preparing for either the Cards or Brewers, knowing it would be one of the two.
“I’ve been talking,” he explained, “... 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.”
“We’re ready to play anybody, anywhere,” Tuesday night’s starter, Max Scherzer, said, as quoted by NBCSports Washington’s Todd Dybas on Saturday.
“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.”
St. Louis jumped out to a 5-0 lead early in their matchup with the Chicago Cubs in Busch Stadium, and ended up winning their own regular season finale, so the Nationals knew it would be the Brewers coming to town on Tuesday night by the time they were done with the final game of their three-game set with the Cleveland Indians.
Washington dropped four of six with Milwaukee in the regular season, but three of the four losses came in mid-May in Miller Park, when Washington was beat up, trying to stay afloat.
“We were swept in Milwaukee with a team that was like an emergency room team,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this week.
“The lineup, you wouldn’t have noticed today, so we don’t feel that that is indicative of how we’re going to play them. They’ve got a really good team, they’ve got a great bullpen and we think we match up well with them and we’re confident that we can win a playoff game with Milwaukee.”
The Nats did take 2 of 3 in D.C., when they played the Brewers in Nationals Park on August 16th-18th in a series which saw the two teams combine for 56 runs between them, 53 runs coming after a 2-1 win for the home team in the series opener.
“They’re a tough team, as we all know,” Martinez said once he knew the Brewers were the opponent for Tuesday night’s game.
“They played good baseball down the stretch, so we’ve just got to be prepared and be ready to play.”
Not having to travel anywhere, the second-year skipper said, was definitely preferable.
“It’s definitely nicer,” Martinez acknowledged. “I didn’t have to come in here and shower and get on a bus for an hour and go catch a plane.”
“I get to go home and have some dinner, relax a little bit, come to our home ballpark tomorrow and get ready for Tuesday.”