The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Leftovers from the final day of the regular season

Denard Span. (Associated Press Photo/Alex Brandon)

So much happened on Sunday, that some things were lost in the shuffle.

>>> The Nationals have a somewhat clearer picture of their first-round playoff opponent. Because the Pittsburgh Pirates fell to starter Johnny Cueto and the Cincinnati Reds, 4-1, the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the National League Central title. The Pirates will now host the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday at 8:07 p.m. in the NL wild-card game in Pittsburgh, and the winner will face the Nationals in a National League Division Series beginning Friday.

Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98 ERA), one of the best pitchers in the NL, is slated to start for San Francisco, and Edinson Volquez (13-7, 3.04 ERA) is expected to be the Pirates’ starter in the single-elimination game. The Nationals, who have rough history against the Cardinals, can’t face them until the second round. The Cardinals will face the Dodgers in the other NL Division Series, which will also begin Friday.

Nationals Manager Matt Williams plans to watch the wild-card game with coaches at Nationals Park on Wednesday.

>>> Cueto struck out seven on Sunday, so he and Stephen Strasburg finish tied atop the NL with 242 strikeouts. So, Strasburg becomes the first Nationals starter to end a season with a least a share of the NL lead in strikeouts.

Other notable achievements by Nationals players: Anthony Rendon finished with 111 runs, tops in the NL. Denard Span finished with 184 hits, tied for the NL lead with Ben Revere of the Phillies, his former Minnesota Twins teammate.

>>> With his third-inning double, Span set a Nationals record for hits in a season with 184. Williams pulled Span for a pinch runner — he gave most of the regulars two at-bats each — and it gave the Nationals Park crowd a chance to honor Span and his tremendous season.

“To be number one in any category or any list, it’s a humbling feeling,” he said. “Just awesome, man.”

Span finished the season with a .302/.355/.416 line along with 39 doubles, eight triples, five home runs and 50 walks. Span now has two .300 seasons in his career: he hit .311 in 2009 and now. After a slow first half in his first season with Washington last year, Span has turned himself into a fan favorite with his strong hitting, stellar defense and personality. The crowd gave him a loud standing ovation when he left Sunday’s game.

“It meant the world to me,” he said. “Running off the field, only thing I could think about was thanking God. He kept me all year long through a lot of ups and down. It all came full circle with the fans when the fans stood up and acknowledged my hard work.”