WASHINGTON– Stay In The Fight. The motto the Nationals stuck to all season remains true as the Nationals stayed in the fight during last night’s win game against none other than Bryce Harper’s Philadelphia Phillies to clinch an NL wildcard spot.
After winning just 19 of their first 50 games the Nationals find themselves in the postseason after a season of heroic efforts delivered by just about every player that donned a Nationals uniform this season.
The Nationals oftentimes had to find a way to come back in many of their wins this season. After shotty bullpen pitching for just about the entire season the Nats were led to many go-ahead and game winning hits just about every other night. Games like Juan Soto’s 10th inning go-ahead homer against the Phillies in early April that led to a 10-6 victory or Kurt Suzuki’s walk-off three-run bomb to complete a seven run comeback in the ninth inning just a few weeks ago.
In what seems like the feel-good movie of the year, the Nationals, who were already down 4-2 runs in the bottom of the sixth when Trea Turner stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Turner was able to connect with Jared Hughes’ 0-1 pitch and deposit it into the Phillies’ bullpen to put the Nats up for good. Turner then let out a huge scream as he rounded first base after his huge, momentus go-ahead slam.
“You just scream,” Turner told reporters after the game. “I don’t even know what to do other than just scream. We knew what was on the line and it was a big it.”
Howie Kendrick, who Turner should thank for to even have the opportunity to hit with the bases loaded and two outs drew a huge walk after pinch-hitting for starting pitcher Max Scherzer. Kendrick drew a walk after taking some borderline pitches after being down 0-2 in the count.
The bullpen dominated and ultimately stole the show from Trea Turner’s heroics. The ‘pen put up a combined eight innings between both games and was nearly perfect only allowing one baserunner which was a Bryce Harper homer that was given up by reliever Hunter Strickland in the seventh inning of game two.
After Daniel Hudson recorded the save during the latter of the two games played yesterday on a hard liner to centerfield that was run down by Victor Robles, the Nationals weren’t able to celebrate right away due to the fact that their magic number stood at one.
Entering the day their magic number stood at three meaning that the Nationals had to sweep the doubleheader and hope that the Pittsburgh Pirates could hold off the Chicago Cubs who were losers of six straight entering Tuesday evening’s game. For the first half of the night it felt like the Nationals were going to have to hold off celebrating at least another day. Washington’s offense was struggling to get anything going off of Phillies’ starter Aaron Nola.
Chicago was having success of their own through the first five innings of their respective game last night. Their starter, Kyle Hendricks, didn’t allow a hit through the first five innings but around the same time Turner hit his grand slam, maybe by a little bit of luck, the wheels fell off of the Cubs already unstable wagon. The Pirates, cultivated by a seven run seventh inning, decided to be spoilers for the night and crush the Cubs who now sit one game away from postseason elimination.
The Nationals barely celebrated their own win before turning their attention to the Pirates-Cubs game that was being broadcasted on the video board as soon as the game knowing the Pirates only needed one more out to send the Nationals to the postseason. After the final out was recorded in Pittsburgh, Nationals Park erupted into mayhem.
The plastic was dropped over the lockers after being mounted to the top wall of the clubhouse which apparently affected Adam Eaton this week after he called it “a distraction.” Nonetheless the Nationals went crazy in the clubhouse. They baby sharked, poured beer on each other, started a conga line, doused the (hopefully) 2019 NL MVP Anthony Rendon in beer, second baseman Brian Dozier danced shirtless as beer was poured down his body, and Max Scherzer’s goggles were two different colors, just like his eyes.
The Nationals are the feel good movie of the 2019 MLB season. They fought hard, baby sharked, never gave up, stayed in the fight, had dance parties and looked to have the most fun a Nationals team has ever had since their arrival in 2005.
After 50 games of hardship, the Nationals were able to celebrate their determination to Stay In The Fight for next 107. Their work isn’t over yet as we will hopefully see the Nationals scratch and claw their way through October and watch them raise a World Series banner next spring.
The Nats will be babysharking their way through October. Thank you to the 2019 Nationals that taught us as fans that the best moments come if you’re willing to stay patient.
Chris is a student currently attending the nation’s most prominent public communications schools at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. You can follow him on Twitter @HironsChris and connect with him on LinkedIn