The Nationals have been talking for the last couple weeks about how they didn’t have their eyes set on a mere playoff berth.
Loftier goals were ahead, they said, like the NL East title. Once they clinched a wild card spot tonight, they weren’t about to get too caught up in this moment. After all, as Ian Desmond noted tonight, “This pretty much means that if we lose every game from here on out, we get to play one more game.”
Still, the Nats couldn’t help but pop open a little champagne tonight and soak in the moment after clinching a spot in the postseason. It didn’t get sprayed around the clubhouse, and there weren’t any long, heartfelt speeches, just a few congratulatory words from manager Davey Johnson.
“We needed to celebrate it a little bit, I guess,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “But the next one will not be as subdued, I would imagine.
“It was one of those feelings you’ve never had before. We accomplished something that none of us here with this team have ever done before. Guys have done it on other teams and other organizations. For us to do it here and to come as far as we have, I guess it’s a sense of satisfaction, I guess is the best word.”
Some guys didn’t know how to celebrate, or if they should at all.
“I was kind of surprised that they gave us hats and shirts and everything,” said tonight’s winning pitcher, Ross Detwiler.
Jayson Werth actually got word that the Nats weren’t planning any type of playoff-clinching celebration. He made sure that line of thinking was squashed.
“I kind of talked them out of that,” he said. “So that was good. Anytime you get to the postseason, it’s a huge accomplishment. There’s a lot of teams that won’t be playing in the postseason and we should relish this moment. The organization and the town of Washington, D.C., should be proud.”
For most guys, that’s the part of tonight that they seemed to enjoy the most - that their accomplishments would finally get to be enjoyed by the fans and the members of the organization who have been without a winning team for so long.
“They stuck with us the whole time, too,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve met fans and seen people here for years when we would lose 100 games a year. For them to have a team and for this city to have a baseball team to root for is pretty special.”
In the middle innings tonight, Werth said he looked around in the stands and saw various signs being held up. He got a feel for the crowd and felt the importance that the night held for the fan base and the city.
“That just kind of keyed me in that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary evening. This is not an ordinary win,” he said. “In the ninth, Drew (Storen) comes in and it was probably the most I’ve seen our fans into a game in the ninth inning. It was a special moment there.
“This wasn’t an ordinary win and I think we’re all very proud of what we accomplished and I’m happy for the organization and the city of Washington, D.C., and the surrounding areas. It’s been a long time.”