I could find many moments over the last three months that could symbolize the way that the Washington Nationals (73-57, .562) crawled back into the National League playoff picture. However, it feels like the closer we get to October, the more significant these moments become.
In the last of such moments, the Nationals put a wet blanket over the hot Chicago Cubs (69-61, .531) at Wrigley Field to extend their first NL wild-card lead to four games going into the last month of play. This series was expected to be hard-fought since the Cubs trailed the Nats by one game for the first NL wild card, and a home series against them could very well put them in the driver’s seat.
Despite those expectations, the Nationals continued their powerful offensive streak and scored 23 runs over the three-game set sweeping the Cubs with scores of 9-3 on Friday, 7-2 on Saturday, and 7-5 in 11 innings on Sunday. The sweep gave the Nationals a little bit more breathing space as they head home for the next eight games. The first series will be a two-game clash against the Baltimore Orioles (43-88, .328).
Looking at the bigger picture, Washington has 32 games left in the regular season and 19 of those games will take place at Nationals Park. The most important road series remaining will be played against the NL East-leading Braves (80-52, .606) in Atlanta and against the NL Central-leading Cardinals (71-58, .550) in St. Louis, who are battling to fight off the Cubs from regaining control of their division.
With Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.41) back in the rotation, it is hard not to be optimistic about the Nats’ chances to host the NL Wild Card Game. The Braves may be out of reach given the way they have played all year, but Washington has to feel good about their chances taking into consideration how they’ve fought back this year.
Gambling this season? Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.