For the third time in as many trips to the postseason, the Nationals will have home field advantage in the National League Division Series. Now, they just need to prove they can take advantage of it this time around.
Games 1 and 2 (and a potential Game 5) will be played in the District thanks to the Nationals' 2-1 victory over the Marlins this afternoon, though the Dodgers' 3-0 loss to the Giants would have done the trick as well.
It'll be the Dodgers traveling east for Game 1 on Friday at a yet-to-be-determined time, with a likely showdown of aces Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw set to kick off the best-of-five series. Game 2 will be Saturday at Nationals Park, after which both clubs will fly west. Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) will be next Monday and Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. And if a decisive Game 5 is needed, it'll be back at Nationals Park on Thursday, Oct. 13.
As it turned out, the Nationals didn't need to win today to clinch, but they went ahead and took care of business anyway with a solid performance in the penultimate game of the regular season.
Tanner Roark closed out his excellent season in style, tossing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. The right-hander, slated to start Game 2 of the NLDS against Los Angeles lefty Rich Hill, finished with a 16-10 record and 2.83 ERA in 210 innings across 33 starts.
The Nationals ensured Roark would top his previous career-high for wins (set in 2014) with a pair of runs of support, with Trea Turner playing a major role in each.
Turner led off the bottom of the first with a single, then took second on Michael A. Taylor's comebacker. When Bryce Harper (who struck out four times Friday night) singled up the middle, Turner scampered home with the afternoon's first run.
Turner needed no help in the bottom of the fifth. The rookie blasted a solo homer to left off Wei-Yin Chen, his 13th in only 303 at-bats this season.
Roark departed with two outs in the sixth to a standing ovation from the crowd of 31,635. Blake Treinen then got out of a jam that inning. Shawn Kelley retired the side in the seventh. Marc Rzepczynski recorded two outs in the eighth.
Then, manager Dusty Baker made an interesting move, bringing in Mark Melancon prior to the ninth. With the possibility of a multi-inning save looming next week and the rest of October, Baker wanted to give his closer some practice recording more than three outs.
Melancon complied, finishing off the one-run victory and securing his 46th save overall, his 16th in 17 attempts since the Nationals acquired him on July 30.