(WASHINGTON) — The Washington Nationals have long been the doormat of the National League East. Now, they’re on top.
Despite losing 2-0 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night, the Nationals clinched their first division crown when the Atlanta Braves fell to to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“The way it happened tonight doesn’t really matter,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “We put ourselves in that position to have the luxury of having the other team have to play perfect baseball. We played a great 159, 160 games to get to that point, and we should be commended for that.”
Washington is just three years removed from losing 100 games in back to back seasons, and won only the second divison title in franchise history. The Montreal Expos won the N.L. East back in 1981.
Once the Braves loss was posted on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth inning at Nationals Park, players and coaches hugged and shook hands in the dugout. After the game, a bigger party ensued in the clubhouse.
“This is incredible. The excitement. The joy. The fans. Smiles on everyone’s faces, the excitement that’s going on,” starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez said. “Everyone here just witnessed history. Hopefully we can try to continue that journey.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jill Martin, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Newswire