- Hamas calls on Hezbollah to join in fight against Israel
- Senators to FIFA, others: Don’t reward Putin with the World Cup in 2018
- U.S. condemns Israeli shelling of shelter in Gaza
- Obamacare shoots premiums up by 88 percent in California
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Obama to Republicans: ‘Stop just hatin’ all the time’
- U.S. chemical sites vulnerable despite millions spent on security: Congress
- Driverless cars to hit the British streets by 2015
- GOP presses to scrap IRS commissioner position — but put in panel
- New bill would make sure women in military can get free birth control
Nationals put Champagne on ice, beat Cardinals to drop magic number to 1
Question of the Day
ST. LOUIS — In the quiet calm that hovered over Busch Stadium Saturday afternoon, manager Davey Johnson sat in the dugout and looked out at the field. A groundskeeper made minor tweaks to the infield dirt, stadium personnel bustled around. Outside of the Champagne in cases at the ready, nothing seemed different about this day.
“I like the fact that we could clinch it today,” Johnson said, his face unflinching despite the weight that statement carried. “That’s always a good feeling.”
The full moon rose over the right field seats as the sky over St. Louis darkened. Every few moments, eyes in the Washington Nationals’ bullpen and dugout turned to the out of town scoreboard, pensively searching for the Braves-Mets score.
The Nationals took care of what they could, though they made it agonizingly difficult on themselves. They beat the Cardinals 6-4 in 10 innings with Kurt Suzuki lacing a double to left center field to drive in the game winners and break the 4-4 tie. But they knew by the seventh that Saturday would not be the night they sealed their National League East championship.
“We were probably watching that (out-of-town scoreboard) more than the game,” said right-hander Craig Stammen.
The Champagne was in the house. But as the Braves beat the Mets 2-0, it remained sealed at least for one more day.
Instead, after a heart-stopping ninth that featured Drew Storen’s first blown save of the season and forced them to play 10 before the finally got their desired result, they happily consoled themselves with the loneliest number. Their magic number. One.
“We’re ready to pop some Champagne for sure,” said Tyler Clippard. “We’re itching.”
“It’s the best position you can be in,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “We did everything we could to give ourselves a chance and now we’re to the ultimate position where we’ve given ourselves the best chance. Nothing’s going to come easy, nothing has come easy all year and I wouldn’t expect anything to come easy.”
Eight years ago on this day, Major League Baseball announced that baseball was returning to the nation’s capital. What followed were years at the bottom of the league, often as a laughingstock, and slow progress toward the top. But from the start this team has been different, the bright light at the end of the dark days for so many D.C. fans. A deliriously charmed season on the precipice of getting another exciting chapter.
Saturday night, on the back of yet another strong pitching performance and one of the most bizarre grand slams many had ever seen, the 2012 Nationals withstood the barrage of the reigning World Series champions and brought their franchise within one step of achieving a goal that once seemed darn near impossible.
A win on Sunday will clinch the Nationals’ first division title. A ticket to bypass the one-game wild card playoff and kick their feet up until the division series begins next weekend. Win, and they’re in.
“You don’t win 96 games without being tough, and I’ve got a tough group over there,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson, his team not giving in even when the Cardinals kept pushing until the final out. “We’re in a pennant race and we’re not wilting.
The night started with a moment equal parts momentous and hilarious when they loaded the bases on Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse and Michael Morse stepped in. Morse reached out and sent the first pitch he saw, a sinker low and away, rocketing over the right field wall and off an electronic board ad just past the fence.
On the field the umpires ruled it to be in play, though, and the Nationals’ baserunners were confused accordingly. Ryan Zimmerman held after rounding third. Adam LaRoche found himself sprinting back to second. Bryce Harper scampered safely into the dugout with the Nationals’ first run, but Morse appeared to be out after sprinting and sliding back to first base. He threw up his arms, bewildered.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- CARSON: Rudderless U.S. foreign policy
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Proving A Point: Redskins' Bacarri Rambo vows to make impact in second year
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
- Obama mum on where illegal immigrant children are sheltered
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world