Max Scherzer was delighted to prove the critics wrong as the Nationals reached the World Series for the first time in franchise history with a 7-4 win Tuesday over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.
The win completed a sweep for the Nationals, who began life as the Montreal Expos and will face the winner of the ALCS between the Astros and Yankees. (Houston took a 2-1 series lead Tuesday with a 4-1 win in that series.)
Tuesday's series-clinching victory was decided early as Washington scored seven runs in the first inning with RBIs from Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Yan Gomes, before pitcher Patrick Corbin's 12 strikeouts saw them through to the win.
Remarkably, the Nationals held a 19-31 record in May, prompting speculation about the futures of manager Dave Martinez and Scherzer, who was rumored to be on the trade block, but the veteran pitcher was confident the team's experienced heads would steady the ship.
"We knew we were going to be the oldest team in the league," Scherzer said.
"Everyone said that was a negative. We looked at it as a positive.
"I'm one of the old guys and old guys can still play. I think the older guys bring a lot of value to the clubhouse. The experience we bring, the emotions we bring … all that helps."
The Nationals have been a hard-luck story in playoffs over the years but general manager Mike Rizzo, who has been with the franchise for more than a decade, always kept the faith in Washington.
"I think every year we're going to the World Series," he said on the field after clinching a shot at that dream.
"We've been in the playoffs five times in eight years and have won more games than any team in the majors except the Dodgers in that time.
"So, every year we head to spring training expecting to win the World Series. Get to the playoffs and you've got a puncher's chance."