You never know when you draw a September day at the park in the season ticket package if the game you pick will be meaningful. But around Friday, I realized that today’s game could be the one where the Nats clinch the 2017 National League East Division title.
I had tickets for Sunday at Nationals Park. Nats vs. the Phillies. And the magic number of National wins or Marlins losses was two! Woo hoo!
Sarah, a colleague from work, joined me, and we laughed when we both showed up in our 2012 East Division champions gear. I told Candice as I left for the ballpark that I was wearing my hat for good luck, since I bought it the night they clinched that year when we were both at the park. Candice replied, “Well good. At least you won’t have to buy a new hat.” She needn’t worry…I’m not buying any new playoff/championship gear until we get to a World Series.
Today sure was a fun day at the park. Stephen Strasburg was brilliant through 8, extending a scoreless innings streak to capture a franchise record. Trea Turner blasted a home run and a double and seems to be fully recovered from his broken wrist. Top prospect Victor Robles drilled a ball off the outfield wall and before you could look up he was at third…unfortunately, he was motoring so fast, he slid past the bag. Gotta love that rookie exuberance. The 3-2 win happened in the blink of an eye, and the magic number was 1.
But the Braves vs. Marlins game was only in the 7th inning, so we moved to the lower level to watch the next 90 minutes of that game on the big screen at Nats Park. It looked hopeless when the Braves were down 2 runs in the 9th, but they made a comeback to send it to extra innings. Finally in the 11th, the Braves had a two-run walk-off homer, and the partying began in Washington.
2012 was different because it was the first time for the Nats, but today was very satisfying. The Nationals have been banged up this year, but youngsters kept plugging the holes and the team kept winning. The bullpen has been rebuilt from the first half dumpster fire. The regulars are starting to come back from injury. And they just kept winning.
2017 National League East Division Champions. Sounds great. Now, let’s go win in the playoffs.
More to come…