SNIDER: Is it finally the year of the Nats?


Maybe Washingtonians can have nice things.

The Nationals’ soul-stirring rally to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 in the wild-card knockout game on Tuesday saw the other team blow it for once. A Brewers outfielder turning Juan Soto’s single into a game-winning run for the Nats. That kind of thing happens by Washington teams and not to their benefit.
Cue the beer showers in the stands. Who knew Washington could catch a break? Now the Nats head to Los Angeles against the heavily-favored Dodgers on Thursday after using their two best starters just to advance in the one-game series over the Brewers. It won’t be easy for Washington to reach the NL Championship given Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg must pitch the back half of the five-game series, but that’s a worry for another day.
For now, Washington advances to the postseason in a city desperate for success. Forget the daily backdrop of impeachment talk looming over this town for months. That the Redskins are 0-4 and probably fighting for 3-13. The Wizards starting a year without John Wall. Oh sure, the Caps open the season at St. Louis tonight, but hockey season in Washington really starts after New Year’s Day.
Overall, it’s a frustrating time in the nation’s capital and the Nationals just made it all go away. Ryan Zimmerman shattered his bat in two for a single in between a hit batter and a walk to load the bases. Soto couldn’t buy a hit over the past week only to smack what should have been a two-run single to tie the game before right fielder Trent Grisham became Milwaukee’s version of Bill Buckner to miss the ball completely for the winning run.

What a heart-stopper.

Maybe the Nats are headed for bigger things this season. The wild-card role suits them better. Washington lost all three opening series as a division champion in past years after cruising into the playoffs. This team won its last eight games to even host the wild card. Surely the Dodgers were rooting for the Brewers rather than face a red-hot team.

The Nats are hungry and maybe a little lucky. And that’s fine. Whatever it takes to bring a World Series to Washington and make October something more than corn mazes and trick-or-treating is fine.

Finally, Washington gets a break.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks