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Instant Analysis: Nats 9, Cubs 2

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Instant Analysis: Nats 9, Cubs 2

Game in a nutshell: So, they played a ballgame on South Capitol Street tonight. The Nationals once again pulverized the Cubs' calamitous pitching staff, either scoring or loading the bases in seven of their eight offensive innings. Because of all that, plus seven strong innings from Jordan Zimmermann, they pulled off a four-game sweep of Chicago and maintained their 7 12-game lead in the NL East. But enough about actual baseball. This game will long be remembered more for the two incidents in the fifth and sixth innings that resulted in both benches and bullpens emptying. It all appeared to start when the Cubs took issue with Jayson Werth swinging away on a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and the Nats up five runs in the bottom of the fifth. That led to a shouting match between Nationals third base coach Bo Porter and Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk (who was ejected). One inning later, Chicago reliever Lendy Castillo's very first pitch just missed Bryce Harper's hip. The 19-year-old said a few words to the pitcher, and that set off an actual kerfuffle during which Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger shoved Michael Morse with some force. Clevenger was ejected, as were Chicago reliever Manny Corpas and Nats reliever Michael Gonzalez. Order was finally restored and the game continued without incident.

Hitting highlight: We could highlight Adam LaRoche's sixth homer in as many days (and his 29th of the season). Or we could highlight Harper's first-inning triple. But how about Kurt Suzuki, who is becoming a much more potent force at the plate the more time he logs with the Nationals. After struggling through much of his first three weeks with the club, the catcher has turned it up a notch. He's now homered three times in a week, including a three-run blast in the bottom of the second tonight. Suzuki later added a couple more singles, and all of a sudden he's hitting .269 since the trade. The Nationals will happily take that from their No. 8 batter.

Pitching highlight: Lost in the chaos of the benches and bullpens clearing twice, Zimmermann authored up one of his best starts in a month. And boy did he need it. The right-hander labored early, serving up a first-inning homer to Anthony Rizzo and a pair of triples in the second inning. But he quickly settled down and retired 12 in a row at one point. The long delay during the fracas left Zimmermann sitting on the bench for a long time waiting to return for the top of the seventh, and he faltered a bit in that inning. But at the end of the night, Zimmermann gave the Nats exactly what they needed from him: Seven innings of two-run ball, striking out nine, to right his ship entering the final month of the season.

Key stat: Harper is the first major-league teenager with seven triples since Buddy Lewis of the 1936 Senators recorded 13 of them.

Up next: After this wild, four-game series, the Nationals now welcome the Marlins to town for a weekend tilt. Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for his final home start of the season, looking to bounce back after getting shelled in Miami last month. Right-hander Jacob Turner will oppose him at 7:05 p.m. Friday.

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Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

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USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

It's been a week since the air was sucked out of D.C. in the Nationals Game 5, 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs. 

And now that we've had a few days to decompress from another early D.C. playoff exit, Nats right fielder Bryce Harper decided to take some time to thank fans for their support this season.

Harper posted an Instagram video Wednesday afternoon, with a fresh cut, and thanked fans for continuing to pack Nats Park. In the video he says he looks forward to "chasing that championship" again next spring. 

The 2017 season could be described as a rough one for Harper after missing the last few weeks of the season with a bone bruise in his left knee. 

Harper had a .319 average during the 2017 season, along with 29 home runs, 97 RBI's, 95 runs scored and 4 stolen bases. He is entering the final year of his contract.

RELATED: 20 THINGS SAD D.C. SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT

National Fans. Thank you!💯 #RedLightRecording

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on

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

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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.