Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse celebrate during game 162 (US Presswire)
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- There was an unusual feeling following the Nationals 5-1 victory Wednesday afternoon. No, I'm not talking about the gimmicky president's race that's somehow caught national attention -- by the way, Nats COO Andy Feffer is a genius.
I'm talking about how the Nats aren't done. For the first time game number 162 didn't signal a mass exodus of Washington baseball players to local golf courses or far away exotic beaches.
It's the exact opposite feeling for the Nationals, who finished the regular season with a 98-64; the best record in Major League Baseball. Local sports television and radio will now ramp up the talk about a World Series, instead of the usual lead topic of the Redskins patchwork offensive line.
"It's definitely an accomplishment. We've played well all year long and dealt with a lot of adversity," said Ian Desmond about the Nats clinching the first overall seed in the NL playoffs. "We're putting ourselves in a good position to continue on."
Ryan Zimmerman has been a stalwart of stoic behavior, a living
disciple of Davey Johnson's baseball principle: don't get too high, and
don't get too low. But Zimmerman instantly played down the fact that playoff experience is of gigantic importance.
"This last week, when we had to win games to win our division...I've never been in the playoffs, but I'm pretty sure that's the same pressure. I guess you guys like to call it pressure," laughed the Nationals cornerstone third baseman. "Baseball is baseball. Wherever your going to play. People are going to do good things, people are going to do bad things -- just like they have all season."
Teammates all year long have illustrated when the lights shine the brightest, Bryce Harper is at his best. An argument can be made that Harper did freeze up during the 2012 all-star game, and slumped hard there after. Obviously, Harper says the pressure won't stir him in any way.
"[I] played for Team USA against Cuba," recalled Harper when he starred for America in the 16-and-under Pan-Am games. "You know, everybody is going crazy. That's how it is. I've always played in crazy situations. I thrive on other fans and thrive on people yelling and screaming."
The rookie of the year candidate later continued about the Nats potential first round opponents. The Cardinals will travel to Turner Field to take on the Braves this Friday at 5:07 p.m.
"St. Louis is great at home and they are great on the road. They have a great lineup," said baseball buff Bryce Harper. "Atlanta has a great pitching staff and a great lineup. It's going to be a lot of fun."
As far as strategy goes, Desmond says the Nats will take the same approach as they have all season -- regardless of the opponent.
"I don't think it really matters who is on the other side of the
field. It matters how we play and that we control the game like we have
been all year."