Thanks to strong pitching from Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper’s burst of energy and Adam LaRoche’s slugging, the Washington Nationals won enough from April through September that even a loss on the first day of October could not stop them from clinching the N.L. East.
Despite being beaten 2-0 by the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night in Washington, the Nationals earned their first division title since moving from Montreal in 2005, because the second-place Atlanta Braves lost 2-1 at the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Washington, in first since May 22, leads Atlanta by three games with two to play in the regular season. The Braves’ loss finished as the top of the ninth inning ended in Washington, and the Nationals celebrated in their dugout with hugs, high-fives and spiked gloves.
In Kansas City, Mo., the Detroit Tigers clinched the American League Central Division championship with a 6-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The Tigers (87-73) will have the worst record among A.L. division champions, which means they’ll open the playoffs Saturday at home against the division winner with the second-best mark.
Detroit reached the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 1934-35.
“We wanted to win this game. That was our goal, to win this one,” Miguel Cabrera said. “We did it.”
After hanging over the dugout railing the entire ninth inning, the Tigers streamed onto the field and behind the pitchers’ mound to celebrate their accomplishment the moment Jose Valverde got Alcides Escobar to ground out to shortstop with a runner on second for his 35th save in 40 chances.
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