Oct 3, 2012, 11:31 PM EST
Associated Press photo
Adam LaRoche tosses goodies to fans behind the Nationals dugout after the game.
The Washington Nationals — who never posted a winning record, never reached the playoffs and never won a division title in their first seven seasons in the District — didn’t just knock down all those barriers in year eight. They managed to knock down an even bigger one: Posting the best record in the major leagues.
With a 5-1 victory over the Phillies during Wednesday’s regular-season finale, the Nationals capped off a 98-64 season that wasn’t surpassed by any other franchise in the big leagues and was good enough to secure home-field advantage as long as their playoff run extends.
No matter how much optimism surrounded the organization when it gathered in Viera, Fla., in late February for spring training, few could have dreamed this big.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,” Ryan Zimmerman, the only player to appear in a game in all eight of the Nationals seasons, said. “Obviously winning the division was a goal, and now we’ve done that, and we have a chance to go do some stuff in the playoffs. This is a great season, a great team, a good group of guys, and we accomplished a lot that we should be proud of. But we have a lot more to accomplish, hopefully.”
They’ll wipe the slate clean and begin that journey Sunday, on the road for Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the winner of Friday’s winner-take-all Wild Card game between the Braves and Cardinals.
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