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Nats, O's Clinch Playoff Spots—Could a Beltway Series Be Brewing?

There's plenty of baseball yet to be played, but for the first time ever, a Nationals-Orioles World Series is a real possibility.

It's been 15 years since the Baltimore-Washington area fielded a Major League Baseball team with a winning record, let alone sent one to the postseason. 

But as of the final out in last night's Rangers-Angels game, the Orioles—improbably, unfathomably—became the second playoff-bound ballclub in the corridor, clinching at least a wild card spot for the first time this century. Their 6-3 win over Boston earlier in the day also kept the O's tied with the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East.

The Nationals' shining moment came 10 days earlier as Washington closed the deal on a postseason berth with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. This year marks just the second time the organization has made the playoffs and its first postseason run since the Montreal Expos became the Nationals in 2005.

To many local fans, the possibility of a Nationals-Orioles World Series—known colloquially as a Beltway Series—is tantalizing, and finally real. But with three regular season games left for both teams and three rounds of playoffs ahead, it's still something of a long shot.

The Nats open their final homestand Monday at 7:05 p.m. against the Philadelphia Phillies. Winning just one game—or Atlanta dropping one of its last three at Pittsburgh—would clinch a division title for Washington, setting them up for the best-of-five National League Division Series against a still-undecided opponent.

Three losses by the Nats and three wins by the Braves would set up a tiebreaking game Thursday in Washington, with the loser likely to face off against St. Louis for a shot at the NLDS.

For the O's, things are even more fluid. Baltimore opens a three-game series in Tampa Bay Monday at 7:10 p.m. The Rays, like the Angels, are one game away from elimination, but they've won an astonishing 9 of their last 10. The Yankees, meanwhile, begin a three-game homestand against Boston Monday.

Winning just one more game than New York would give Baltimore sole control of first place in the AL East, while losing just one more would push them back to a wild card spot. 

If the Orioles manage to keep pace with the Yankees, they'll play a tiebreaking game Thursday in Baltimore. The winner would earn the division title, while the loser would drop down to the wild card play-in game, likely to face Oakland.

In short, both teams have done the seemingly impossible in 2012, but neither can rest on its laurels just yet.

So, baseball fans: what's your reaction to the embarrassment of postseason riches in the Baltimore-Washington region? Are your allegiances split? And how likely do you think a Beltway Series is? Let us know in the comments!

Sean R. Sedam October 01, 2012 at 05:47 PM
To prime the pump for what could be, here's some good-natured trash talking from the annual interleague Battle of the Beltways: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QlORK-aqwhw
Sean R. Sedam October 02, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Congratulations to the Washington Nationals! 2012 National League East Division Champions!
John Floyd II October 02, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Aye, and last night's match-up at Nationals Park resulted in the highly-unusual sight and sound of the Nats' unique submarine klaxon "victory horn", radio presenter Charlie Slowes exclaiming, "Bang! Zoom!" go the fireworks!", and champagne corks popping after a 2-nil loss to the Phillies! For the first time since 1933, the "Curly W" team are National League Eastern Division Champions and after a season like this one, who know's what else is possible in the coming weeks. Jolly well done, Washington Nationals!
Sean R. Sedam October 02, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I took in everything I could last night (at least from the comfort of my kitchen). I had the TV and radio going to hear the call when the Buccos beat the Braves (which I was following on the Internet). Mostly, I wanted to witness history—something not too many living Washingtonians have ever seen. But part of me also wondered if this would be the last chance to celebrate this season. If the Nats don't get their bats going, it could be a short-lived postseason. The beer and champagne showers were great. I just hope the boys in the curly W caps aren't satisfied. Full disclosure: Although I'm wearing an O's cap in my profile photo, I'll be rooting for DC if there's a "Beltway Series." (Who says there are no baseball fans in Washington? Oh, right, that guy who owns the O's.)
Randy Fortwengler October 02, 2012 at 10:08 PM
I member the first baseball game I went to with my father. It was at Griffin Stadium with the Senators. I was also at one of the last games they played at RFK. My nephew grew up a Orioles fan, O'h the trash talking in our house. I disagree with one thing, I hope that it is the O's win and the Nat's win and it is called a Parkway Series' not a beltway series' that is the link that has always connected us. Vo Nat's.
Sean R. Sedam October 02, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I agree Randy. Battle of the Beltways (plural) makes sense, but I never understood the "Battle of the Beltway" slogan. The B-W Parkway is what it's all about. (Then again, we're marking the 10th anniversary of the "DC sniper shootings," despite the fact that only one of the shootings occurred in the District. So apparently geography isn't really our strong suit when we're doing media shorthand.)
Sean October 05, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Yes, it should be the Parkway Series. I used to live in both Maryland and Montreal, and I don't resent the city of DC for taking our team (MLB took it) so I'll be really conflicted if it comes down to a Parkway Series.

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