NLCS: Nationals Sweep Cardinals, Earn First World Series Berth
Over to you, Seattle.
As of right now, the Mariners are the only MLB team to never have made it to the World Series.
That's because the Washington Nationals joyously took their name off that sorry list by sweeping the St Louis Cardinals for the National League championship.
As Teddy Roosevelt woulda said, bully for them.
There have been three MLB franchises in Washington:
- The original Senators (1901-1960) -- they called themselves the Nationals for a few seasons early on -- who actually won a World Series in 1924 and became the Minnesota Twins in 1961,
- The expansion Senators (1961-1971) who were perennial losers that became the Texas Rangers in 1972, and now
- The Nationals, who are bringing the Series back to DC for the first time since 1933.
The Los Angeles Dodgers got all the National League's PR for being ominous this season, in part because of their hot start -- 32-18 -- after 50 games.
The Nationals were putrid -- 19-31 -- after 50 games, but then lit it up. Their 74-38 record after that was identical to LA's.
It's why their best-of-five NLDS triumph over the Bums wasn't all that much of a surprise.
Coming into the NLCS, the Nats may have been the Wild Card survivor, they thus had a better regular season record than the NL Central champion Cardinals.
Each team had a glaring flaw:
- St Louis hitters had a tendency to go ice-cold en masse, and
- Washington's mid-innings bullpen was the proverbial arson squad.
The Cardinals needed to get into that pen by the fifth inning. The closest they got was Game 4, where Nats starter barely got that far. Unfortunately for St Louis, that's the game their MLB-leading defense imploded.
This came on the heels of yet another standout performance from Stephen Strasburg in Game 3.
Dude punched out 12 Cardinals and Howie Kendrick provided all the cover he'd need to put St Louis in a hole from which they'd never recover:
So, it's on.
The 2019 season's stealth-hottest team is in the Big One for the first time ever, ready for whichever better-publicized juggernaut the American League offers up.