Stay in the fight.
That's been the Washington Nationals' motto this season, and it's propelled them all the way to their first-ever World Series appearance.
By way of a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, the Nationals clinched their first NL pennant since the franchise moved from Montreal to the nation's capital in 2005.
This improbable run began in late May, when the Nationals were 19-31 and 10 games out of first place in the NL East. But for the next four months the Nationals played like one of the best teams in baseball. They finished the regular season 93-69, which was good enough to secure the first wild card spot in the National League. In the winner-take-all wild card battle, they scored three runs in the eighth inning to squeak out a 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Then came a matchup with the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers, who many considered a shoo-in to make their third straight World Series appearance. The Nationals lost two of the first three games but then staved off elimination to force a decisive Game 5. Trailing in the eighth inning of that contest, playoff heroes Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto helped the Nationals tie the game with back-to-back solo home runs. Two innings later, veteran Howie Kendrick's grand slam all but sealed the upset.
Having finally won a playoff series, the Nationals entered the NLCS playing at a level St. Louis simply could not match. Their starting pitchers -- Aníbal Sánchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin -- shut down the Cardinals' bats, while their hitters continued to drive in runs with two outs. They allowed just two runs during their first three victories, then scored a touchdown in the first inning of Game 4 on Tuesday night. The early run support was more than enough in a 7-4 pennant-clinching victory.
The Nationals will now have a week off before beginning the World Series on Oct. 22 against either the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees. For more information about that series, or anything else Nationals related, visit https://www.mlb.com/nationals/.