This year, the Nationals put it all together – to this point in the season, anyway – culminating with a Washington, D.C., it’s first Major League playoff team in 79 years.
And so, forgive the National fans if they celebrated a little wildly after their 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Nats Clinch” flashed on the scoreboard as Washington ensured at least an NL wild-card spot, delighting the crowd of 30,359.
“That was fun, but it’s not what I had my eye on,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I don’t want this.”
He wants more. That chance comes until later. The fans lived in the “now,” and stood and cheered in the ninth inning, then got even louder when Drew Storen struck out Hanley Ramirez to end the game.
Johnson saluted the crowd as he left the field and the team wore caps and T-shirts acknowledging the playoff berth.
“I noticed like in the fifth or sixth, some signs, some different things that kind of keyed me into that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary evening,” the National’s Jayson Werth said. “That was not an ordinary win.”
Nineteen-year-old center fielder Bryce Harper claimed ignorance of the team’s situation.
“Everyone’s going crazy” Harper said .” I looked at the fireworks and I go: ‘I guess we just did something.’ Then somebody handed me the playoff shirt and playoff hat and I said, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to the playoffs,’ ” Harper said.
Washington’s magic number to win the NL East was reduced to eight. The Nationals lead idle Atlanta by 5 1/2 games.
“We’ve been through a lot and a lot of us in here have been through a lot of not-good times and these are the beginning of hope for a lot of good times,” Ryan Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman is the only Nationals player to appear in each of the team’s eight seasons.