The Washington Nationals went from trailing by two runs in the eighth inning of the win-or-go-home NL Wild Card Game to needing just four games the minimum to win.
The Nats completed a four-game NLCS sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 7-4 victory on Tuesday night.
The game felt over in the first inning when the Nats got all seven of their runs with some help from the Cardinals’ defense and knocked St. Louis starter Dakota Hudson out after just 15 pitches.
The Cardinals actually turned it into a game by scoring four by the fifth inning against Patrick Corbin and getting 7 2/3 scoreless innings from their bullpen. St. Louis even had the go-ahead run at the plate in the eighth inning, but Matt Carpenter grounded out to second with the bases loaded.
Now, the Nats get plenty of time to rest with the Astros-Yankees series (Houston leads 2-1) guaranteed to go at least two more games, and to get the opportunity to arrange their starting rotation however they’d like.
Then again, when you have three ace-level arms in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin and even No. 4 starter Anibal Sanchez only allowed one hit in Game 1 of the NLCS, the rotation will look good regardless of how it’s arranged in a short series.
With those starting pitchers, to go with plenty of offensive talent (led by Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, Trea Turner, and Howie Kendrick), the Nats will be a very difficult team for the Astros or Yankees to beat in the World Series.
Obviously, the franchise in its current incarnation has existed only since the beginning of the 2005 season. Thusly, it’s not quite the drought of a team like, say, the Seattle Mariners, who haven’t played in the Fall Classic notwithstanding appearing in 1977.
Every other active franchise has now played in at least one — or will have, once the Nationals take the field for Game 1.