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Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer, left, and Gerardo Parra celebrate after the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Washington. Washington won 6-5 and clinched a Wild Card berth. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Let’s Get Wild: Nationals Punch Ticket

Any time you secure a spot in post-season play is a good feeling. Yet, when you manage to crush the playoff hopes of another team at the same time, that feeling is even greater. Sprinkle in the fact that the former face of your franchise is on the losing team — and boom.

Best. Day. Ever.

Maybe it wasn’t quite the best day ever for the Washington Nationals, last night had to have felt pretty good.

After a double-header against the Phillies on Tuesday, the Nats secured the franchise’s first wildcard berth — the fifth time in eight years that the Nationals will play in the post-season.

How did we get here?

The path to the playoff wasn’t easy for the Nationals, and the struggles date back to earlier this season when the Nats were off to a 19-31 start. Davey Martinez’ bullpen also suffered through considerable woes this season. Back in May, the Nats’ bullpen had the highest ERA in the league — many went as far as to say that Washington’s bullpen was the worst in franchise history.

Ouch.

Injuries were another hefty obstacle to overcome for the Nationals.

Earlier in the year, Washington’s list of injuries was a long one — spanning to 14 players in a stretch between March and May.

The road hasn’t been easy for the Nationals, but somehow they’ve played to see another day.

Shortstop Trea Turner can remember those days like they were just yesterday.

“We talked about it when we were 19-31, we talked about how we were going to laugh at everybody outside the clubhouse for everything that they said about us. And here we are now.

And here we are now.

Everyone’s early lack-luster opinion of the Nationals clearly left a bad taste in Trea Turner’s mouth. A taste that could only be overcome with the sweet, sweet taste of victory.

And last night, with just his second career grand-slam, Turner would drown out any bad taste in his mouth with bubbling champagne.

Turner’s grand-slam lifted the Nationals over the Phillies 6-5 to get the ticket to the big dance.

https://twitter.com/Nationals/status/1176692757479481344?s=20

On Tuesday, Turner served as a catalyst for the Nationals — giving them the right spark at all the right moments.

In game one of the doubleheader, Turner smacked three hits which scored two runs.

Up 4-1 in the ninth, Daniel Hudson took to the mound and came up with the save — a stat line that became all too familiar in game two.

Hudson also recorded a save in game two after coming in to relieve Max Scherzer who struckout 10 Phillies’ batters in game two.

Philadelphia Phillies right fielder and heavy hitter, Bryce Harper said he’s not surprised that his former team fought through adversity to secure a spot in the playoffs.

Onwards and upwards — the playoffs

Clinching a spot in the playoffs is just half the battle for the Nationals. Playing into October means you’re playing amongst the best of the best. The comforting news is that you’re one of the best of the best.

While the Nationals’ wild card opponent is still to be determined, Washington will have to wake up on Wednesday morning and face the Phillies for the third time in two days. While the implications are much less, I’m sure manager Davey Martinez, who is fresh out of a cardiac procedure, would like to see his team hone in on imperfections ahead of October baseball.

However, a lot of alcohol was consumed on Tuesday. Wednesday’s game might be a “hangover game” for the Nationals — literally.

 

About Ainslie Lee

Ainslie is a journalism major at the University of Florida where she specializes in Sports Media. Her main passion is college football as it was a huge part of her childhood. Ainslie serves as a current correspondent for the Ocala Star-Banner, a newspaper for the Ocala, Florida area. She currently covers Marion County high school sports.

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