Daniel Hudson stood on the outskirts of the writhing, soaking mob in the middle of the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse. He watched his teammates dump beers on one another — celebrating the National League pennant — as he grinned, nodded to the music and held a Budweiser. Hudson loves these guys, and he loves having fun, but he was still unwinding from “probably the highest-leverage [situation] I’ve ever been in in my career.”

The Nationals had summoned him in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the NL Championship Series on Tuesday. There was one on with two outs. They had a three-run lead. Hudson never wanted this; he never wanted to close. He had expressed this before. And there on the mound, with more than 43,000 screaming fans, with the chance to secure a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, he felt seized by the moment. He felt adrenaline and anxiety. His control slipped.

But now it was over. They had the trophy. They were going to the World Series, so Hudson allowed himself to admit the truth.