Skip to content

Finish line in sight

Sep 12, 2012, 5:00 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
The Nationals celebrate their 88th win of the season.

NEW YORK — In expanding the postseason to include two wild-card teams from each league, Major League Baseball opened the door for plenty more franchises to keep themselves in the chase through September.

MLB also, however, lowered the bar to reach the postseason. Had the second wild-card been used over the last decade, the National League would have produced playoff teams with as few as 85 wins. And no team with 91 wins or more would have been left out of October. The average number of wins needed to secure a playoff berth (under the new format) in the NL since 2003: 88.

Guess how many games the Nationals have now won in 2012.

Yes, with a 5-3 victory over the Mets on Tuesday night, the Nationals improved to 88-54. Even if they lose their final 20 games, they could conceivably still wind up reaching the postseason. Win just a couple of times down the stretch, and they’re a shoo-in.

It’s OK to begin the final countdown, folks. Even the manager admits he’s doing it.

“It’s time to be looking at magic numbers,” Davey Johnson said. “And I’ve been looking at them for a while now.”
Read more

  1. sjm308 - Sep 12, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    Just back from Petco Field. Left early but Padres were spanking the Cards. I was not into the game that much, but was thinking that except for Molina, there was not one other player I would want from either team over our starting line up. If i was starting a team, I would even take Ramos at catcher.Ballpark is very nice. Parked about 4 blocks away. Meters until 6pm at the high price of .25/hour!! Great craft beers at various restaurants & bars as you walk to the park. Stood outside a place called "bubs" and watched us score our last two runs before heading in. I was the only one in the park standing and clapping when the Brewers game went final. So final tally is a quarter for parking, good meal and four great beers before the game, my team picks up two on the magic number & I have 6 more days in an absolutely beautiful area. Out to the desert tomorrow.Go Nats!!

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 12, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    Had to leave with the game in the 9th (Danny Espinosa had just scored) to go to a Crosby, Stills and Nash concert. Throughout the concert my mind was wondering what happened in the game. Returned to watch the replay, getting a bit nervous after the Mets' home run. But all turned out well. And even better when I checked the Atlanta score. Keep it up, Nats, as I have a feeling you're going places.

  3. SonnyG10 - Sep 12, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    I'm feeling the pressure, guys. Please clinch as soon as possible so I can relax.

  4. Positively Half St. - Sep 12, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    Last night worked out wonderfully, but I have to admit that I wish that the Phillies had lost. We were complaining together about how much attention Philadelphia was getting yesterday, but everything fell their way last night. They and the Brewers are now only 4 games out, and they are watching everyone above them approach in a free-fall. What the heck, even the Diamondbacks are only 5 games back now.I am not liking this second wild card quite as much anymore.+1/2St.

  5. SonnyG10 - Sep 12, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    I see what you mean +1/2St. I'm not liking it so well now myself.

  6. Gonat - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Count 'em boys!

  7. Gonat - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    clair·voy·ant/kle(ə)rˈvoiənt, a person who really saw the Nationals in this position before Opening Day.

  8. Gonat - Sep 12, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    Positively Half St. said… Last night worked out wonderfully, but I have to admit that I wish that the Phillies had lost. We were complaining together about how much attention Philadelphia was getting yesterday, but everything fell their way last night. They and the Brewers are now only 4 games out, and they are watching everyone above them approach in a free-fall. What the heck, even the Diamondbacks are only 5 games back now.I am not liking this second wild card quite as much anymore.+1/2St. September 12, 2012 4:35 AM ___________________________________The strength of the NL East is evident. The Phillies now have the spotlight on them, lets see how they react to it. They did get Chooch Ruiz back and face the Astros for 4 games over the weekend. Good news is they play the Braves for 3 after that.

  9. MicheleS - Sep 12, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Davey says I can look at the numbers now. Glad to see one of them in the single digits. Boys, the goal is the top number – win your division. When that is done, you uncork the bubbly (or sparkling cider for Bryce).Go Brewers. Would rather have them as the WC than the Phillies. Looks like the Pirates are cratering – sigh, still hoping they could get in. STL looks like they are injured (Berkman out, Wainright looks human, and what happened to Beltran). Those trades haven't helped the dodgers. With Billingsly out, they have no true #2. Plus Hanley, lord knows he is a kiss of death.

  10. Gonat - Sep 12, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-Id_KeZKkAWild Card clinch celebration

  11. Theophilus T. S. - Sep 12, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    After the series w/ the Barfs, either Philadelphia or Atlanta will be toast.

  12. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Count me as one who relishes the upcoming schedule. Playing teams desperately in the playoff hunt is a perfect set up for the playoffs.I also love the fact that Davey has the guys keeping their eye on the prize and not expressing any concern about who or who may not be sneaking into the hunt. Let the Braves do that because that keeps their focus scattered.

  13. baseballswami - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Even though it would be easier on the fans, it's better for the team if they have to fight and stay sharp the entire way. Teams that have it easy at the end go into coast mode and sometimes can't ramp it back up. I love the slow, steady, relentless pace the Nats have taken the entire season. That's how they are in games and that's how they are over a course of a season. Patient and relentless. Mentally tough. And Jayson Werth has taken the lead there.

  14. Gonat - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    http://broadband.cbslocal.com/sports-junkies/Davey coming up in a minute on 106.7

  15. natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Just my opinion, but I think when you clinch your first playoff berth, you celebrate. That's not to say a team can't celebrate twice (or even more times). But take a little moment to relish clinching, then get on that division title. ;-) Agreed re. staying sharp, swami. Remember how, when the Phillies were stumbling late last season, pundits were saying, eh, they'll pick it up again in the playoffs? Yeah, me, too.Kinda surprised at myself but I'm kinda liking these relentless, keep-your-foot-on-their necks Nats. What's next for me? Pointy-ball fandom? Eeeewww! I don't think so.

  16. Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Clairvoyants see events at a distance, but not before they happen.

  17. Feel Wood - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I would hope there's no champagne celebration in the clubhouse when they clinch the second wild card berth. Or even the first wild card berth for that matter. That's like celebrating an invitation to participate in a coin toss, because either one of those wild card berths offers only a 50-50 chance of making it into the REAL postseason. Save the champagne celebration for clinching the division title or, if you must, for winning the wild card game. Those are the only two events that would guarantee a new flag flying above the scoreboard next to 1924, 1925 and 1933.

  18. Gonat - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Davey saying Henry's wildness was due to elbow issues.

  19. Gonat - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Davey wants a Monkees song as his intro

  20. natscan reduxit - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    … this morning speaking of Christian Garcia, Mark asked rhetorically, "Could a rookie September call-up force his way onto the October playoff roster? "… could somebody remind me again, how this happens? What is the legal manoeuverings necessary to bring it about?… and oh yeah, Go Nats!!

  21. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Great win. Glad to see we beat Dickey. All thanks to Moore. Now that Morse is out for couple of days, Moore gets some opportunity, that is also against a left-handed pitcher. Great! I guess Lombo will be starting in Danny's absence (condolences to him on his loss).I am still a little bit concerned about our RISP hitting.

  22. bowdenball - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    baseballswami said…"Even though it would be easier on the fans, it's better for the team if they have to fight and stay sharp the entire way."No offense to the swami, but this is nonsense. Teams have won the World Series playing down to the final day (2011 Cardinals), and they've won it after locking up a playoff spot weeks in advance (2009 Yankees, 2007 Red Sox). All they have to do to stay sharp is play baseball- it doesn't matter what the stakes are.

  23. Joe Seamhead - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… I guess Lombo will be starting in Danny's absence (condolences to him on his loss). —————————————-What loss? What has happened that affects Danny?

  24. Joe Seamhead - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    BTW, Davey's Sports Junkies interview will replay at 9:25 this morning. My son called me and said it was pretty entertaining.

  25. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    agree with bowdenball, Rays were playing pretty intense baseball last September but were knocked out in the first round.

  26. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Didn't Amanda report Danny's grandmother passing away? He is not gonna be playing today (obv).

  27. natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Amanda Comak ‏@acomak#nats will be without 2B Danny Espinosa for Weds finale w #mets. Keep him&family in your thoughts as he mourns the death of his grandmother.

  28. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    thanks 1a. that's the tweet I was referring to.BTW is there such a thing as magic number for best record in the league?

  29. natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    You're welcome, Faraz. I found it on the Google. :-)

  30. NatsNut - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    And the Unbridled Enthusiasm Award goes to zregime. Love it! zregime said…Y'all, we got this. WE GOT THIS. We are gonna win the NL East and I will make an internet Natties Milkshake for all of of you when we do…C'mon guys — WE GOT THIS. I don't mean some of it. I mean all of it. We got this.And…why couldn't Rizzo, evil genius as some have him made out to be, just go…OK, I'll play the part. Stras, you're out against Yu tomorrow night. Just after Gio.Uberdomination.We got this.

  31. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    natsfan1a said… Amanda Comak ‏@acomak#nats will be without 2B Danny Espinosa for Weds finale w #mets. Keep him&family in your thoughts as he mourns the death of his grandmother. September 12, 2012 9:24 AM Thanks for posting and seems that's the only way to get Danny out of the lineup.Lombo should be at 2nd and Bernadina in LF. Lombo should be busy fielding grounders.

  32. Natslifer - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    I just listened to the Davey interview – really great stuff. He is so "all-in" for his guys and so enthusiastic. Lots of great bits but my favorite was when they asked him about the team meeting after the 5 game losing streak. He laughed and said something like "that wasn't for me or the players – that was for YOU guys – you're all out there panicking and I needed to do something so you could write about it – with the players I just went in there and said 'we're all good' and left it at that."

  33. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Gonat said… clair·voy·ant/kle(ə)rˈvoiənt, a person who really saw the Nationals in this position before Opening Day. September 12, 2012 6:36 AM I like when Charlie calls Dave the "summenor" when he pre-calls a HR.That's been happening a lot lately!!!!

  34. sjm308 - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Agree with feel wood on no champagne celebration until clinching the division. Act like you have been there, even if you haven't .With Morse out, wouldn't Bernadina be the best choice? It gives you a stronger defense &he is hitting really well right now as well.Danny is in my thoughts, also makes you think about how things had to go for Cal to do what he did.Go Nats!! Go Playoffs!! Score First!!

  35. Joe Seamhead - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    My condolences to Danny, too.

  36. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    sjm308 said… Agree with feel wood on no champagne celebration until clinching the division. Act like you have been there, even if you haven't .I hear what you are staying but I have checked around and there are many teams that celebrate clinching their playoff berth even if its a Wild Card however its unclear to me as to do you party when you clinch a playoff spot when you still have a legit shot at the Division?SJM says no. I am in the camp that says follow Davey's lead. WWDD

  37. bowdenball - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said…I hear what you are staying but I have checked around and there are many teams that celebrate clinching their playoff berth even if its a Wild Card however its unclear to me as to do you party when you clinch a playoff spot when you still have a legit shot at the Division?"Teams sometimes celebrated clinching the wild card in the past, even if they were still in the division race, because the wild card came with a berth in the division series. As far as progress towards the World Series went, it was basically the same as winning the division. Winning the wild card was the big step; all the division title did beyond that was get you an extra home game or two. That's no longer the case, so nobody really knows how it will play out. My guess is that we'll see a very low-key celebration from every wild card clincher except the last one in. Last one in will let loose.

  38. Feel Wood - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    I suppose a celebration for clinching Wild Card Berth Number 2 might be okay if it's all a team has left to show for its season. Do you think the Phillies will pop champagne corks if they happen to squeak into that spot this season? If they do, and then lose the wild card game, will they raise a flag saying "Hey, we almost made it again in 2012"? I bet their fans would boo them if they did.

  39. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Bowdenball – I think a low-key celebration makes sense for clinching a post-season berth and the traditional champagne celebration when you clinch the division and every series win after that (NLDS, NLCS, WS)

  40. bowdenball - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    I agree, GoSM. I think that's what this team will do, too. The way the schedule shapes up, there's a pretty good chance this team clinches on the division on the road. That's "unfortunate" for the DC fans I guess, but you won't hear me complaining. Maybe with that in mind, they'll do a little celebrating with the fans if they clinch the wild card during next weeks' homestand.

  41. natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    I think the team will do what they will do, regardless of what we all think. And I'm okay with that (Hi, Davey!) :-)

  42. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    bowdenball said…, there's a pretty good chance this team clinches on the division on the road.How sweet though would it be to clinch the Division on September 25th in Philadelphia to return the favor?I just hope MASN gives extended TV coverage to the Division clinching celebration and if not hope that Mark and Comcast have a video crew so we can watch it on Comcast.This is a historic time in DC Sports, not just baseball.

  43. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    natsfan1a said… I think the team will do what they will do,Are you channeling your inner Yogi?

  44. natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I never said most of the things I said. :-)

  45. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    There is an irony of sorts here when you think back to players who have departed DC saying they wanted to leave for a team where they had their best chance of making the postseason.Adam Dunn comes to mind when he left prior to last season for Chicago and stated he had never been to the post-season and Chicago gave him a great opportunity.As it looks right now, Ryan Zimmerman will punch his post-season ticket before Adam Dunn.The non-signing of Adam Dunn is one of the most significant parts of the current Nats as it brought Adam LaRoche here.

  46. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    natsfan1a said… I never said most of the things I said. :-) Deniability is a great thing. Just ask a politician!The other side of it is just be right most of the time.

  47. natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there.

  48. natsfan1a - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Coming out of Yogi mode here. I've been married too long to go along with that one. (Well, my husband might disagree. :-))"The other side of it is just be right most of the time."

  49. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    natsfan1a, LMAO

  50. John C. - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    In addition to leading (eventually) to the signing of Adam LaRoche, not signing the big Dunn-key also garned the Nationals two draft picks which the Nationals have turned into Alex Meyer and Brian Goodwin, both of whom have looked promising so far (insert the usual caveats about prospects).

  51. sm13 - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Why not celebrate the wild card clincher? This franchise has fought its way out of the cellar. The players, mgmnt, and us fans have earned some champagne!

  52. feelanau - Sep 12, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    The notion of celebrating wild card clincher seems silly to me, when there's a 50/50 chance that your playoff status will last ONE day. For the two wild card teams, whichever non-Nationals teams they may be, I can see celebrating the wild card win and moving on to the "real" playoffs.

  53. sjm308 - Sep 12, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    This team is not playing to win the wild card. If you do the math, they could honestly lose just about every game & still end up in that one game playin. They are playing to win the division and when they do so, they will celebrate. This blog is for the fans & allows us to express our views. In the end, they will of course do what Davey says to do.Go Nats!! Go Playoffs!! Score First!!

  54. JaneB - Sep 12, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    I also say skip the wild card celebration and move on to the division celebration. They said I'm with WWDD.They better let Teddy win the last home game or Division clinch day, whichever makes most sense. Time … Well beyond time…to stamp out lovable losing once and for all. GYFNG!!

  55. JaneB - Sep 12, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    PS. Yesterday, one of our kids booked a flight home for the last week of October. Just in case.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter