By JULIA MAY
Despite a rough start to the season with a 19-31 start record, the Washington Nationals managed to come together as a team to win the wild card game last Tuesday, and then pull out a massive win last night in the first series of the playoffs. The season began with tension due to the Philadelphia Phillies’ pick up of the right fielder, Bryce Harper. Many fans were convinced that the team would suffer due to the loss of a dominant member of the team.
However, not everyone felt the same way. “They just had to stay in the fight,” said freshman Zach Georges. “It was kind of their unofficial motto too, they just had to put in the work and really just come together as a team.”
The season began to turn around for the Nationals beginning in late May as they turned their losing record around, going 93-69 for the regular season and becoming the ninth team in MLB history to make the postseason after falling 12 games under .500 during the season, and clenching a wild card spot.
Manager Davey Martinez spoke on this dramatic turn around for the team, saying, “No matter how you start the objective is to get to the postseason. The boys did that. And we can all sit here and say it was ugly in the beginning, but they stepped up and endured a lot and we’re going to the postseason.”
The Nationals carried this momentum into the wild card game against the Milwaukee Brewers this past Tuesday at Nationals Park. Max Sherzer was the starting pitcher for the Nationals, serving up three runs in the first two innings before Stephen Strausberg took over in the fifth. The Nats were still trailing by two runs in the eighth until Juan Soto hit a bases-loaded, two-run single. “Soto saved us,” said freshman, Maggie Young.
Daniel Hudson closed the ninth inning and kept the Brewers scoreless, bringing the Nationals to a win with a score of 4-3, and sending them to the playoffs, where they would face the Los Angeles Dodgers in LA.
The Dodgers have reached the National League Championship Series for three consecutive years now, whereas the Nationals have never won a playoff series since the franchise moved from Montreal to Washington back in 2005. Despite this obvious setback, the Nationals have managed to put up a fight both in Washington and in Los Angeles.
In the first game, the Nationals fell short to the Dodgers losing 0-6, with only two hits for the nine innings played. However, the Nationals brought the heat in the second game, where they pulled out a 4-2 win.
Game three was played in Washington, but the hope for a win soon dissipated in the sixth inning when the Dodgers managed seven runs. The Nationals tried to push back, getting two runs in the bottom of the sixth, yet it wasn’t enough to close the gap and the Dodgers won 10-4.
Many fans feared that game four would be the last for the Nationals in their playoff run, yet Ryan Zimmerman sent fans into a frenzy after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning. “The crowd exploded… it was the loudest I had ever heard that stadium. It was a roar,” said freshman, Kevin Munson, who was in attendance at the game. Max Sherzer also threw a hell of a game, giving up only one run on three hits over seven innings. Even with odds stacked them, the Nationals managed to tie the series up 2-2.
Game five of the Nationals-Dodgers series was played in Los Angeles last night. Stephen Strausberg started for the Nationals, for his third appearance this postseason. The first two innings started out rough for the Nationals, as the Dodgers hit a two-run homer in the first and another run in the second.
The Nats, however, didn’t let this stop them. In the sixth inning, Anthony Rendon scored after hitting a double, with Juan Soto sending him home. Then, in the eighth inning, Rendon and Soto got back to back home runs, tying the score at 3-3. Neither team got runs in the ninth inning, sending the game into an extra tenth inning.
With bases loaded, Howie Kendrick hit a home run with zero outs, pushing the score to 7-3. Kendrick’s grand-slam was also the second ever extra inning, postseason grand-slam in MLB history. Dodgers fans immediately began to get up and leave the stadium. Sean Doolittle pitched the extra inning for the Nationals, keeping the Dodgers at bay. Michael Taylor caught the final out, sending the entire team running on the field to celebrate their huge victory of winning their first postseason series in the franchise history.