By HAL McCOY
It is not true that the 120-loss 1962 New York Mets showed up for the National League Championship Series in place of the St. Louis Cardinals.
It only looked that way.
The Washington Nationals finished their complete stranglehold of the Cardinals Tuesday night. wiping out the proud and historic St. Louis franchise in four straight games.
And now the Cardinals know how the Atlanta Braves feel after the Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first inning of the final game of the National League Division Series.
The Nationals scored seven runs in the first inning of Game 4 Tuesday night in Nationals Park against the Cardinals, another crush-a-roo, 7-4.
So Washington moves on to its first-ever World Series appearance to face the survivor of the American League Championship Series, which the Houston Astros lead two games to one over the New York Yanks.
The Nationals’ life began life in 1969 as the Montreal Expos. When the city wouldn’t build the team a downtown stadium to replace Olympic Stadium, man’s monument to concrete, the team moved to Washington in 2004.
The Expos never appeared in a World Series.
In the last year of Les Expos de Montreal, the team had no owners and Major League Baseball temporarily took over the franchise.
The Expos played several home games in 2003 in San Juan, Puerto Rico in small, clunky and decrepit Hiram Bithorn Stadium, becoming MLB’s orphans.
MLB packed the trucks and moved from Montreal/San Juan to Washington in 2005.
The Lerner Family, headed by real estate developer Ted Lerner, purchased the franchise from MLB in 2006 and in 2007 the team moved from old Robert F. Kennedy Stadium to the new Nationals Park.
The Nationals had never appeared in a World Series, either — until this year.
Washington wasted little time with an opening assault on St. Louis starter Dakota Hudson.
The seven-run first came innocently enough with a sacrifice fly by Anthony Rendon, but that was followed by an RBI double by Juan Soto, a run-scoring single by Victor Robles and a pair of two-run singles by Yan Gomes and Trea Turner.
After getting six hits in the first inning, the Nationals went eerily quiet, getting no more runs and only three hits the rest of the way
Washington left hander Patrick Corbin, given the seven-run pillow, looked invincible. He struck out 12 in five innings.
The only damage was a fourth-inning home run by Yadier Molina.
The Cardinals, though, chased Corbin in the fifth inning by scoring three runs, an RBI ground ball by Tommy Edman and a two-run single by poker-hot Jose Martinez to make it 7-4.
And they had a runner on second with one out, but Corbin regrouped and struck out both Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Osuna.
Both bullpens took command from there, although the Cardinals threatened in the eighth.
Left Sean Doolittle pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, but with two outs he gave up a single to Jose Martinez and Nationals manager Dave Martinez made a move.
He brought in Daniel Hudson. He promptly hit Yadier Molina with a pitch and walked Paul DeJong on a 3-and-2 count to fill the bases.
St. Louis manager Mike Shildt sent up pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter. He grounded out to second base, ending the inning by stranding the potential tying runs on base.
Daniel Hudson returned to the mound in the ninth for the Cardinals’ last call and he locked things up.
Kolten Wong flied to left, pinch-hitter Matt Wieters popped up to the catcher and Tommy Edman flied to left, igniting the obligatory infield up-and-down team dance.
So the team that was 19-and-31 in late May is World Series-bound. They outscored the Cardinals 20-6 and St. Louis never led in any of the four games.