Two NL teams locked up playoff berths on Thursday and while one was in the same position two years ago, the other hadn’t been to the postseason since 1933.
The Cincinnati Reds (91-59) get points for clinching first. Their 5-3 win yesterday over the Chicago Cubs earned them a road sweep and secured them a spot in the NL Wild Card, but with an eleven game lead in the Central, it’s only a matter of days before they are officially crowned division champions.
The Washington Nationals (91-58) punched their postseason ticket a little while later in to the night, as they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 at home. With a five and a half game lead over Atlanta, Washington expects it too will nab the East division title before the regular season is through.
It was certainly a special night in Washington for Nationals fans, who haven’t cheered on a playoff team in almost 80 years. The Nats have come a long way since moving from Montreal and changing their name from the Expos. After enduring 100-game losing seasons in 2008 and 2009, the Nationals can claim 2012 as their first winning season in Washington.
As the fans applauded the win and the berth for their beloved Nats, manager Davey Johnson and his team knew they had done something extraordinary, but they also realized that it’s not over yet and that they have bigger plans for this season.
“That was fun, but it’s not what I had my eye on,” Johnson told ESPN.
The Nationals are setting their sights on an NL pennant and a 2012 World Series Championship and according to odds makers, like Bovada, it’s not too much of a stretch. The Nats are currently listed 11/4 favorites to take the NL and 7/1 to win the whole shebang.
Meanwhile, the Reds big day was somewhat dampened by the absence of its leader, manager Dusty Baker, who missed his second straight game with an irregular heartbeat. However, like Washington, Cincinnati is thinking bigger and hopes that Baker will be in the dugout when they clinch the division.
“Hopefully, he’ll be back with us tomorrow and when it really matters, when we clinch. Hopefully, we get to celebrate this weekend with him,” said relief pitcher Sean Marshall in an ESPN.com article.
After the Reds do clinch, they’ll be looking ahead to the postseason, where they will be 9/4 to win the NL pennant and 13/2 to win the World Series, which is slightly better odds than Washington.
Both of these teams are certainly capable of going all the way with the talent they have in the rotation and in the lineup, but I have to give the slight edge to the Reds because they do have, albeit only a little, but at least some playoff experience. However, I would be very surprised if it’s not one of these two teams coming out of the NL to represent the league in the World Series. Atlanta and San Fran should put up a fight, but look for either the Nats or the Reds to make the trip to the World Series in 2012.