After more than six months of baseball, 98 regular season wins, and four exciting National League Division Series games, this series finale is upon us. At 8:37 pm tonight, Gio Gonzalez will throw out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals in a pivotal game five. Nationals Park will absolutely be rocking from before the first pitch as fans feed off the energy of Jayson Werth's ninth inning, 13-pitch walk-off home run last night. No matter how this game ends, though, you have to reflect back on the season that brought the Nats to this point.
This isn't meant to prepare anyone for a loss today in any way. It's just, these games don't mean as much, to me at least, unless you look back on how you got here. Remember where we all thought this Nationals team would be on April 4, and look where they are now. They finished with the best record in baseball, finished with the top seed in the NL, and can move on to the Championship Series with a win behind a leading NL Cy Young contender.
It's not at all warm at Nats Park hours before game time, and it's just going to keep getting cooler. That and the breeze coming in from the outfield means the Nats, a power hitting team, will struggle to take any baseballs for a ride tonight. They'll have to win on the first half formula that brought the Nats so many wins early: starting pitching and just enough offense to squeak by. It'll be up to Gio Gonzalez and the Nats bullpen to keep this game under control.
We've got rubber stamp lineups for both the Nats and Cards behind their best starting playoff pitchers. Win or lose, it should be electric here all night. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey is throwing out the first pitch and the US Army Chorus Quartet is singing the National Anthem and God Bless America. Only in our Nation's Capital. Just remember the excitement of the regular season no matter the final result of tonight's game, and stay after the game ends to give your team the standing ovation they deserve.