Nationals

Quick Links

Instant analysis: Nats 6, Giants 5

810496.png

Instant analysis: Nats 6, Giants 5

Game in a nutshell: On Turn Back the Clock night, the Nationals and Giants staged a tense battle not all that unlike Game 7 of the 1924 World Series. Right down to the home team rallying to win in walk-off fashion. Ross Detwiler labored through five innings and was probably lucky to escape allowing only three runs. Matt Cain, meanwhile, was in complete control for six innings, baffling the Nationals' hitters with his impressive arsenal. All of a sudden, though, the Nats lineup came to life in the bottom of the seventh, with Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa clubbing back-to-back homers and Bryce Harper delivering a two-out, RBI double to cut the Giants' lead to one. It remained a 5-4 game into the bottom of the ninth, at which point the Nationals staged their winning rally off closer Santiago Casilla. Tyler Moore kicked things off with a double to deep left-center. Casilla then couldn't field Steve Lombardozzi's sacrifice bunt attempt. Harper grounded into a forceout at the plate, and Adam LaRoche grounded into what looked like a 4-6-3 double play. But Brandon Crawford's relay bounced and Brandon Belt couldn't make the scoop. Harper came in to score and the Nationals pulled off a wild, 6-5 victory.

Hitting highlight: Say this for Harper: He battles through at-bats with the best of them, even if it doesn't always result in a hit. The rookie fouled off five straight 2-2 pitches from Cain in the bottom of the sixth, ultimately grounding out but drawing several ovations from the crowd of 29,819 which appreciated the effort. One inning later, Harper came up to bat against tough lefty Jeremy Affeldt in a big spot with two on and two out. He was called for a borderline check swing with a 2-0 count, but brushed it off and roped an opposite-field double on the next pitch to drive in a key run. Then he did it again in the bottom of the ninth, sending a run-scoring single to right off Santiago Casilla to lead the game-winning rally.

Pitching lowlight: It was a strange night for Detwiler, who only gave up a handful of hard-hit balls yet gave up 11 base hits. Many of them were groundballs that found holes. Detwiler didn't pitch particularly well, but he did come through with some big outs when he needed them. In the end, the best thing the left-hander did was make it through five innings having allowed only three runs. On a night like this, that actually was something of a minor miracle.

Key stat: The teams with baseball's best records in 1924: the Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, Pirates and Yankees. The teams with baseball's best records in 2012 (entering tonight): the Rangers, Yankees, Nationals, Pirates, Dodgers and Giants.

Up next: The final series of the season's first half begins Friday night when the Rockies come to town. Stephen Strasburg faces lefty Drew Pomeranz at 7:05 p.m.

Quick Links

Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

usatsi_10342243.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

Quick Links

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.