With just five games left in the regular season, the National League East remains the only division in the league without a clear-cut winner – odd when you consider the fact that the team leading the division is also tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the best record in baseball. But after an Atlanta Braves loss to the New York Mets, which came on a three-run home run from Mets outfielder Lucas Duda, the Washington Nationals’ (95-62) magic number finally fell to two.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals (85-72), who are fighting for the league’s second Wild Card, are looking for some combination of three wins or Los Angeles Dodgers losses to reach a one-game playoff with the Braves.
Both teams hope to take one step closer to clinching their respective playoff spots tonight in the second of a three-game series that will pit Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann against Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse in a rematch of their September 1 meeting. Continue reading
Apparently, revenge is a dish best served on a warm 78-degree afternoon. And yesterday, the Washington Nationals (92-59), led by left-hander Gio Gonzalez, got their revenge on a Milwaukee Brewers (78-73) team that usurped a win in the ninth inning of Friday night’s four-game series opener.
For Gonzalez, the outing was a perfect response to an earlier July 29 outing in which the Brewers handled his repertoire by belting five runs on five hits and earned seven free passes on five walks and two hit batsmen. The fact that yesterday’s win marked number 20 for Gonzalez, who is the only pitcher to have reached that mark this year, was icing on the cake.
“This is like a dream,” Gonzalez said, “and I feel like I’m still sleeping in it.”
This afternoon, the Nationals will look to ensure, at least, a series split as they take on red-hot right-hander Yovani Gallardo. On the mound for Washington, making just his fifth start of the year is sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang. Continue reading
Though the Washington Nationals (91-59) suffered a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers (78-72) last night after a blown save from Tyler Clippard, the team actually managed to move a step closer towards clinching the National League East. With the Atlanta Braves’ loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Nationals’ lead stood pat at 5 1/2 games while their magic number dropped to seven. And despite a recent string of less-than-stellar performances from Clippard, manager Davey Johnson has no plans to reduce the co-closer’s role in the bullpen.
“He’ll be fine,” Johnson said. “That one just got away. One battle. He’s been pretty awfully good.”
This afternoon, all eyes will be on another Nationals pitcher as left-hander and sole 19-game winner Gio Gonzalez heads to the mound in search of his 20th win. To earn it, he will need to out-pitch Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta, who started his first major league game earlier this month. Continue reading
After splitting yesterday’s straight doubleheader with the Los Angeles Dodgers (77-72), the Washington Nationals (90-58) will have to play at least one more game before clinching a playoff berth that will mark the first for a D.C. baseball team in 79 long years.
With a win in the first game of the doubleheader, the Nationals ensured that they would live to play more than 162 games this year as they clinched a worst-case scenario that involves a 163rd game – one that would decide the winner of the second National League Wild Card.
Now, with their NL Wild Card magic number sitting at one, they can ensure that the 163rd game never happens by taking tonight’s game – and the series – from the Dodgers.
Still, Nationals manager Davey Johnson is concerned with only one thing.
“The only thing that means anything to me is when we clinch the [division],” Johnson said. “That’s the only thing I’m concerned with.”
To claim their right to October baseball, the team will have to look past last night’s blown call and look forward to Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano, who will take the hill opposite Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler. Continue reading
After an exceptional pitchers’ duel between Washington Nationals (89-55) left-hander Ross Detwiler and Atlanta Braves (82-63) right-hander Kris Medlen at Turner Field last night, the Nationals dropped the first of a three-game series with the Braves in what will be their final meeting of the regular season. Now, with their lead in the National League East cut to 7 1/2 games, the Nationals’ magic number for a playoff berth remains at four while the magic number for a divisional crown still sits at 11.
A Nationals win tonight would mark the team’s 90th win – the franchise’s first 90-win season since the 1933 Washington Senators won 99. Coincidentally, a playoff berth would be the first for a D.C. baseball team since the same Senators team made a World Series appearance.
To get that win, the Nationals will rely on right-hander Edwin Jackson, who will take the mound opposite Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson. Continue reading