There are many things to be said of Ross Detwiler, the Washington Nationals’ power left-hander.
Presumably, you were aware of that juicy tidbit, provided you have watched alongside the rest of the Washington Metropolitan Area as he has developed into a frontline-caliber starter since his selection in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Nationals.
His prowess was on full display last night as he led the Nationals to a series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on six innings of one-run ball, through which he allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out five.
With the victory, he added another talking point to any discussion involving him by notching his 10th win of the season, marking the first time he has reached double digits in the win column as a professional.
Now, on its own, that might not be seen as much of an achievement. But because in doing so, Detwiler became the pitcher of record for the game that clinched the first playoff berth for a Washington baseball team in 79 years and will forever be remembered by Nationals fans.
Not since 1933 has a D.C. baseball team made an appearance in baseball’s postseason. That year, the Washington Senators won 99 games and a trip to the World Series, one the team would eventually lose to the New York Giants in five games.
That was the last time the district has played host to a World Series game. This year, however, the Nationals look to make history after having assured that they will play more than a standard 162-game season for the first time in nearly eight decades.
Naturally, a good deal of the team offered comments on what the win means to them, the city and their fans. It comes as no surprise that Nationals manager Davey Johnson also had something to say on the matter.
“What’s the big deal?” Johnson asked jokingly with a genuine smirk. “That was fun but it’s not what I had my eye on. It’s a nice step to get here, but every manager that’s leading a division, that’s the only thing that matters – winning your division.”
Johnson has maintained for weeks that due to the new MLB playoff format, a team’s only option is to win the division, something that was echoed by his players.
In a post-game interview, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made it clear that the team is seeking a division crown, not merely settling for a playoff appearance.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a chance to even play one game in the playoffs, so this is a huge step,” Zimmerman said. “But like you said, we have bigger goals and we got a few more games to win before we can really celebrate.”
Having won last night, the Nationals’ magic number for clinching the National League East now sits at eight.
And to cap everything off, here is a bit of perspective:
Just three years ago, the Nationals suffered a season that is best summed up by the number of games the team lost – 103. Last night, the organization – its executives, its coaching staff, its players and its fans – said goodbye to sub-.500 baseball for the foreseeable future.