Which team was the aberration? Was it the 2012 Nationals, who everyone thought overachieved from the start of the season, or was it the 2013 Nationals, a popular preseason world series prediction who underachieved all the way to their season-ending after 162 games? Tuesday night’s game and the 2014 season in general has given us clarity as to the answer to that question, as the Nationals clinched their second division title in three years in Atlanta. As F.P. Santangelo said, “Once again, the D.C. stands for Division Champions.”
Sep 16, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals catcherWilson Ramos
(40) and relief pitcherDrew Storen
(22) celebrate a victory against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The Nationals defeated the Braves 3-0 to clinch the National League eastern division championship. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
It was fitting that Tuesday night, on the cusp of what will hopefully be many 2014 titles, the Nationals turned to a man that has arguably been their most consistent starter all year. Tanner Roark did not disappoint, giving the Nationals a start of seven scoreless innings, a performance that the Nats are starting to expect as an “average” start from their phenomenal rotation.
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Ian Desmond, a man that has been consistently in the lineup all year, provided all the offense Washington needed on this night.
Braves starter Aaron Harang man handled the Nats lineup for the first five innings. In the sixth, Jayson Werth walked to lead off the frame, but Harang followed with a strike three call to Adam LaRoche to bring up Desmond. The Nats’ shortstop, who had already been punched out twice, got a 2-2 hanging breaking ball and absolutely pummeled the ball to left field for a two-run homer and a 2-0 Nats lead. It was Desmonds 23rd homer of the year and his 87th and 88th RBIs.
In the ninth, Desmond lead off the inning with a double to right center off of David Carpenter. After Harper moved him to third with a ground ball, Desmond scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 3-0.
Int the end, it couldn’t have been more appropriate that Drew Storen closed out the game. Storen, who infamously blew the save in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against the Cardinals, has come back from a horrendous 2013 to post the best bullpen ERA in the National League. Seven pitches, seven strikes and the Nationals are division champs.