Oct 2, 2012, 5:35 AM EDT
Associated Press photo
Mike Rizzo and his Nationals celebrate after clinching the NL East title.
Updated at 1:35 a.m.
They stood out there on the field during the top of the ninth inning, trying to keep their focus on whichever Phillies player had stepped into the batter’s box. Really, though, everyone with the Washington Nationals — and everyone in the crowd of 35,387 — was focused on the upper left-hand corner of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field, where their true fate was being determined.
Two hundred forty-six miles away in Pittsburgh, the Atlanta Braves were down to their final out, unexpectedly trailing the Pirates 2-1 and desperately trying to rally, a man on first and Brian McCann at the plate during an at-bat that seemed to take 79 years to be completed.
“We were out there for the top half, and it flashes up there that there’s two outs with a man on first,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “And we played the whole inning with two outs and a man on first!”
Then Drew Storen got Domonic Brown to ground out to second just as Jared Hughes got McCann to tap a comebacker for the final out at PNC Park, and suddenly a wild celebration was underway in Washington, even though the home team was on the verge of a 2-0 loss to its hated rivals.
“We came in the dugout, and all the fans were going nuts,” Werth said. “So we started going nuts. I don’t know if we even knew.”
NL EAST STANDINGS
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule
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
- Phillies call up top prospect for September
- Nationals open big series in Los Angeles
- Astros fire manager Bo Porter, who came from Nats
- Nationals promote 6 players in September call-ups
- State of the Nats: Nationals-Dodgers could be playoff preview
- Nats' numbers in August were off the charts
- Three homers not enough in 5-3 Nationals loss to Seattle
- Nationals go for series sweep in Seattle
- Strasburg pitches gem as Nats beat Mariners 3-1
- Manny Pacquiao to throw first pitch before Nats-Dodgers game