Nationals clinch wild-card spot with doubleheader sweep over Phillies, Cubs loss to Pirates

A lot had to go right for the Washington Nationals to clinch a postseason spot on Tuesday and right it all went. The Nationals swept their doubleheader with the Phillies (WAS 4, PHI 1 and WAS 6, PHI 5) while the Cubs lost to the Pirates (PIT 9, CHI 2), clinching a spot in the dance for Washington. All three games had to go the Nationals' way to clinch a spot Tuesday.

The hero Tuesday was Trea Turner. After going 3 for 4 with two doubles in the first game of the doubleheader, Washington's shortstop clobbered a clutch go-ahead grand slam in the nightcap. Check it out:

Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, five errors and a quiet offense sent to the Cubs to their seventh consecutive loss. Their postseason hopes are slim and fading. Also, Washington's win the doubleheader opener eliminated Bryce Harper and the Phillies from the postseason race. Philadelphia has an important offseason ahead of them.

As you may remember, the Nationals got off to a terrible start this year, going 19-31 in their first 50 games. They were 8 1/2 games out of a postseason spot at the time. Washington has gone 69-38 since then, however, which is the best record in the National League during that time. They've been the hottest team in baseball the last four months.

The Nationals are returning to the postseason after a one-year hiatus. Because the Braves have already clinched the NL East title, Washington will be a wild-card team. It will be their first time playing in the Wild Card Game. The Nationals won the division title in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017, but failed to advance beyond the NLDS.

It's worth noting the Nationals still have to lock down homefield advantage in the Wild Card Game. The Brewers won as well Tuesday night (MIL 4, CIN 2), so the Nationals are one game up for the top wild-card spot. Milwaukee won the season series and owns the tiebreaker. All they have to do is tie Washington in the standings to get homefield advantage.

Three of the five National League postseason spots have now been claimed. The Braves clinched the NL East, the Dodgers clinched the NL West, and the Nationals have a wild-card spot. The NL Central and the other wild-card spot are still up for grabs.

Over in the American League, the Yankees have clinched the AL East and the Astros have clinched the AL West. The AL Central and two wild-card spots remain unaccounted for. Here is the updated postseason picture.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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