After being swept in a three-game weekend series by the second-place Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals, now 89-57, have had plenty of time to regroup following a scheduled day off on Monday and the postponement of last night’s series opener with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who bring a record of 76-71 to Nationals Park. For those who have yet to hear, last night’s game will be made up this afternoon as part of a single-admission doubleheader that is scheduled to begin at 4:05 p.m.
The good news for the Nationals is that their magic number for clinching the National League East, which had remained stagnant since September 12, finally ticked down a notch with the Braves’ extra-innings loss to the Miami Marlins last night. As for their magic number to clinch an NL Wild Card, that number still sits at three. It could, however, vanish altogether with a sweep of the Dodgers in this afternoon’s doubleheader and would mark the first playoff berth for a D.C. baseball team since the 1933 Washington Senators.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson, however, will not be celebrating a Wild Card.
“The additional Wild Card, to me, just really put more of a burden on the manager, because nobody wants that one,” Johnson said. “A one-game playoff to get in? The other format, if you were the Wild Card, you’re in the playoffs. So clinching a one-game playoff doesn’t have any appeal to me.”
As such, one can assume that the Nationals will still be looking to take both games of the doubleheader, but only to put as much distance between themselves and the Braves as possible in an effort to ensure a division crown. To do so, they will have to best Dodgers right-hander Aaron Harang, who will be opposed by Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann in game one of the doubleheader. Continue reading