The Associated Press
WASHINGTON–Stephen Strasburg and teammates zipped through their quickest home game of the season, then waited along with several hundred fans at Nationals Park.
About 90 minutes after finishing a victory over the Phillies, Washington broke out the champagne to celebrate its continued NL East supremacy.
Strasburg extended his scoreless streak to a franchise-record 34 innings as the Nationals beat Philadelphia 3-2 yesteday afternoon in a tidy two hours, 16 minutes.
A little while later, Washington clinched its fourth NL East title in six seasons when the Braves beat the Marlins 10-8 on an 11th-inning homer in Atlanta.
Fans remained in the stands to watch the Braves rally with three runs in the ninth, and fireworks erupted from the upper deck after Atlanta finished off Miami, making the Nationals the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this season.
Players poured out of the dugout wearing ski goggles, embraced their wives, girlfriends, and children, and flung hats and T-shirts into the crowd.
“This one was very, very gratifying. Even though it looked like we had a comfortable lead, it was still a struggle,” manager Dusty Baker said in the booze-soaked clubhouse.
“A lot of our top guys were hurt.”
The Nationals also won the NL East in 2012, 2014, and last year, but they haven’t advanced past the divisional round of the post-season.
“It’s the most well-balanced team that we’ve had,” said general manager Mike Rizzo.
“We’re very efficient offensively,” he noted. “We don’t strike out nearly as [much as] we did in ’12, ’14, and ’16.
“[And] we think that we have more ways to score.
“Our rotation is our rotation,” Rizzo added. “It’s as good as it gets.”