The Washington Nationals entered Sunday with the chance to clinch the NL East and become the first division champions of the 2017 season. It wouldn’t just take a Nationals win on Sunday though, as Washington would need an Atlanta Braves win against the Miami Marlins to eliminate the Marlins from contention in the NL East.
Washington Nationals Claim Fourth Division Title
Stephen Strasburg took the bump for the Nationals in the division clinching game on Sunday, and the Philadelphia Phillies could hardly touch the 2009 first overall draft pick. Strasburg turned the Phillies away as he only gave up two hits and one walk over eight innings. He racked up double digit strikeouts, finishing the day with 10 before turning the ball over to one of Washington’s trade deadline pickups: Ryan Madson.
Madson shut the door on the Phillies, but it didn’t come easy. He gave up two runs on three hits, but he did stop the bleeding by picking up a strikeout and shutting the door 3-2 over the Phillies.
The Nationals called up top prospect Victor Robles on Thursday, and Robles came up clutch in Sunday’s game. He picked up his first major league hit as he ripped a RBI double into the outfield before getting thrown out at third. Trea Turner also helped out the Nationals cause by ripping a home run over the left field wall in the eighth inning.
Washington had to keep the champagne on ice as they waited for the result of the Marlins/Braves game. The Braves had to play extra baseball, but in the 11th inning, Lane Adams hit a home run to left field and ended the game in walk-off fashion winning 10-8. The Braves punched Washington’s ticket to the postseason, and the Nationals clinched their fourth division title in six years.
Washington has dominated in the regular season, but the team has struggled in the postseason. The Nationals have been bounced from the postseason earlier than their fans anticipated. Last year the Los Angeles Dodgers turned Washington away in the NLDS, and both the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants upset Washington in the 2012 and 2014 NLDS, respectively. The Nationals will keep their eyes on Strasburg. If Strasburg can stay healthy in the postseason, the Nationals will have a chance at going deeper into the postseason; but for right now, the Nationals can enjoy their fourth division title in six years.