MIAMI -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg pitched six scoreless innings and helped the Nationals win their season finale, 3-1, on Wednesday in the final Major League baseball game played at Sun Life Stadium.
Strasburg allowed just one hit and struck out 10.
The Nationals end the season with an 80-81 record, their second-best record since moving to the nation's capital after the 2004 season. But all the talk was about how much the players wanted Davey Johnson to return as manager of the team.
Johnson already announced that he wants to return to the same role. Johnson wants to come back as the field general because he feels he is the best candidate for the job and likes the direction the team is going in. He also feels there won't be a lot of question marks regarding the club entering Spring Training in 2012.
"When I start something, I would like to finish it," Johnson said. "We haven't finished anything. One of my goals coming in here is to finish ahead of the Mets. That was one of my goals. But my goal as a manager is to win the [National League East] division and contending. And I didn't have that opportunity this year."
But the Nats have to go through an interviewing process before the team decides to bring him back for next season.
"He is not finished with what he started," outfielder Michael Morse said. "He definitely had a role in turning this team around."
Johnson's biggest attribute is his ability to communicate and he is always talking to the players -- whether it's about hitting, pitching or defense. He is not afraid to tell a player if he's doing something wrong on the field. In fact, Jayson Werth went so far as to say the atmosphere is in the clubhouse has improved since he took over the role as manager, replacing Jim Riggleman on June 26.
"Given the situation that he came into, which I don't think would have been an easy situation for anybody, he did things his way and the way he wanted to do it, which speak to his character and his experience," Werth said. "It was all good. The transition was smooth, he kind of gave this team some order. That's good. What he does so well, I think, is that he lets everybody play.
"There is not a presence that is looking down on anybody. He keeps it fresh. He keeps it light. The clubhouse atmosphere has only gotten better once he came along. That is the biggest thing to me. Ever since he showed up here, the chemistry in the clubhouse got so much better. It's just that air of confidence."
For Ian Desmond, he was able to get his confidence back as a hitter, thanks to Johnson, who told him to stop taking every pitch to right field. Desmond listened and ended up posting respectable numbers.
Desmond delivered the winning hit on Wednesday, a two-run single in the fifth off Marlins starter Chris Volstad that broke a scoreless tie.
"Davey has believed in me ever since the beginning," Desmond said. "That's what he does for everybody in the clubhouse. He puts us in situations where we can succeed. He expects the best out of us every day. He is not afraid to tell you if you don't give your best. That's why I love this organization. They have been with me and have been by my side the whole way. It's not just Davey, it's everybody. I'm completely grateful. Hopefully by next year, I don't have to give him a lot of stress.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said Johnson is a great fit for the club and sticks with slumping players no matter what happens.
"Davey does a great job of putting the lineup together. You have your guys who play every day unless they need a day off or banged up," Zimmerman said. "He has been around baseball a long time. He has seen and done everything. He has won as a player and a manager. He brings a calming influence. He is going to stick with his guys no matter what."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.