Werth heard talk in recent days of the Nationals not celebrating the wild-card berth at all, and he put a stop to it. “Anytime you get to the postseason, it’s a huge accomplishment,” Werth said. “We should relish this moment. The organization, and the town of Washington, D.C., should be proud.”
The Nationals clinched behind left-hander Ross Detwiler, who allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five in six innings. For the season, he has a lower ERA (3.10) than Stephen Strasburg (3.16) in only 21
3 fewer innings.
“Masterful,” Johnson said. “He’s just growing up as a pitcher.”
Zimmerman started the offense with his RBI double off Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano in the third, then by dashing home on a wild pitch. Danny Espinosa lashed an RBI double in the fourth, and catcher Kurt Suzuki scored him with a clinical, two-strike sacrifice fly.
With a 4-1 lead, the Nationals only needed to hold on. In the fifth and sixth innings, Werth spotted signs in the stands that alerted him it would not be a normal win.
For the final three outs, Johnson chose Drew Storen, the closer who saved 43 games last year but took a setup role this season as he returned from elbow surgery. He pitched one of the best innings of his career. The crowd stood, and stayed standing, after Storen struck out Matt Kemp for the first out of the ninth. Storen bounded around the mound “like a high-test rubber ball,” Johnson said.
He finished the inning with the slider to Ramirez. He slapped Suzuki high-five, then lined up and shook hands.
“Afterwards, when I saw it on the scoreboard, I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool,’ ” Storen said. “I was wanting to get back and be a part of this team.”
The players acknowledged the crowd as they poured back into their dugout after postgame handshakes, clapping with hands over their heads.
“This is definitely a meaningful moment,” Werth said. “We’ll take it in, celebrate it tonight. Back to business, back to work tomorrow.”
The Nationals had wondered how, exactly, to celebrate. They wanted to acknowledge an unprecedented moment for the franchise. But they also wanted to remember they have more work to come, with much greater moments to come.
“Everybody is kind of asking each other, ‘What do we do?’ ” Detwiler said. “I think we’re gonna definitely blow it out on the next one.”