- - Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Washington has been waiting 86 years for a World Series.

No one in Nationals Park Tuesday night wanted to wait one minute longer.

The Washington Nationals made sure no one did.

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They finished the four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 7-4 victory to give the franchise its first National League pennant.

The Nationals began booking everyone’s long-awaited ticket to the World Series from the first pitch – strike one to St. Louis Cardinals leadoff hitter Tommy Edman by Washington starter Patrick Corbin.

He pitched with a sense of a city waiting decades for this moment. Corbin struck out Edman, sending a roar through a packed house of 43,976 on their feet from the opening pitch.

Corbin then struck out Jose Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt — 13 pitches, 11 strikes, and with each punch out the crowd grew louder and louder.

They would soon find a new level of frenzy.

Trea Turner led off the bottom of the first with a single to right, and when Adam Eaton followed with a double to center, Nationals Park exploded. Those few fans who had not reached their seats yet ran across the center field concourse. The deafening noise told them they were missing something special.

Not to worry — the Nationals lineup was just getting started.

As chants of “MVP, MVP” rang into the night, Anthony Rendon brought Washington’s first run home with a sacrifice fly to center.

Juan Soto followed with a double to left, scoring Eaton for a 2-0 lead.

When Howie Kendrick came to the plate, the crowd anticipated something special from their offensive hero of this series, coming off his three-RBI performance in Monday night’s 8-1 win.

Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson disappointed the home crowd with an intentional walk.

But the Cardinals were imploding as Nationals Park was exploding.

Ryan Zimmerman reached first on an error by second baseman Kollen Wong, then Victor Robles drove home Soto with a single to right.

Yan Gomes kept the line moving, singling to left, driving home Kendrick and Zimmerman. Corbin sacrificed, moving Gomes to scoring position at second and Turner, batting for the second time, drove the ball into left field for a two-run single, scoring Robles and Gomes.

The score was 7-0 Washington after just one inning.

Fun times. Serious fun times.

This had been manager Dave Martinez’s message to his team during their steamrolling playoff run, from the wild card game victory over Milwaukee to the NL Division Series win over the favored Los Angeles Dodgers to last night’s clincher in the NLCS against St. Louis.

“I want them to have fun,” Martinez said before the game of his expectations for his players. “I want them to be loose. Like I said before, we’re not here solving the world’s problems. We’re here playing a baseball game. Some of you guys have done it since you were 3, 4 years old. So just go out there and have fun.”

That message had reached the crowd.

Grown men and women wearing full-length Baby Shark costumes certainly qualifies as fun. The fun came to a crescendo when Robles ran down Edman’s fly ball to center for the final out, kicking off a raucous celebration in the stands and on the field, where Nationals players jumped on each other near the mound and embraced with the hugs of a champion.

Fans waved their red Nats rally towels and stomped and screamed the night away like it was 1933 — the last time a Washington team played in the World Series.

They stomped and screamed away the pain of losing not one, but two baseball teams, and the void of not having Washington baseball for 34 years until this franchise, the former Montreal Expos, moved to the District in 2005.

They stomped and screamed most of the night for the joy, the pride and the unity that the Nationals brought to the city this October. And they stomped and screamed for what was still to come — the World Series.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

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