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The Nationals celebrate their 88th win of the season.
MLB also, however, lowered the bar to reach the postseason. Had the second wild-card been used over the last decade, the National League would have produced playoff teams with as few as 85 wins. And no team with 91 wins or more would have been left out of October. The average number of wins needed to secure a playoff berth (under the new format) in the NL since 2003: 88.
Guess how many games the Nationals have now won in 2012.
Yes, with a 5-3 victory over the Mets on Tuesday night, the Nationals improved to 88-54. Even if they lose their final 20 games, they could conceivably still wind up reaching the postseason. Win just a couple of times down the stretch, and they're a shoo-in.
It's OK to begin the final countdown, folks. Even the manager admits he's doing it.
"It's time to be looking at magic numbers," Davey Johnson said. "And I've been looking at them for a while now."