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Jacob DeGrom denies Nationals sweep of Mets on Father's Day

Jacob DeGrom denies Nationals sweep of Mets on Father's Day

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jacob deGrom hit his first major league home run and shut down a bruising Washington Nationals lineup on three singles for eight dominant innings Sunday, giving the New York Mets a 5-1 win that prevented a four-game sweep.

Fresh off pitching the Mets' first complete game of the season in his previous start against the Cubs, deGrom turned in a complete effort, excelling with his arm, bat and glove.

The NL East-leading Nationals had been 6-0 at Citi Field this season and had battered the Mets in three games this week, never trailing while totaling 18 extra-base hits. But they had trouble touching the blue-stitched balls -- used all around Major League Baseball on Father's Day -- thrown by deGrom (6-3).

The right-hander mixed his fastball, slider and changeup well, fanned Bryce Harper with a 97 mph heater on his 105th and last pitch and walked off to a standing ovation. He struck out six and walked two, and the only run against him was unearned.

A career .199 hitter in 176 at-bats coming in, deGrom also provided the biggest jolt. He hit the first pitch of the third inning from Joe Ross (3-3) over the wall in left-center.

The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, a converted infielder at Stetson University, kept holding down his helmet as he rounded the bases, making sure it didn't fly off his flyaway hair. His victory made the Mets 17-0 when their pitcher homers dating to a loss when Jason Isringhausen connected in 1996, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

T.J. Rivera had four hits for the Mets. A popup that Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy lost in the sun set up two New York runs in the fourth for a 3-1 lead.

Trea Turner stole four bases, setting a Nationals record. Harper extended his hitting streak to 11 games, leading to Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly in the first.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Shawn Kelley was put on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained muscle in his upper right back. The reliever is 3-2 with four saves and a 7.00 ERA in 22 games, giving up nine homers in 18 innings. He was on the DL in May with a lower back strain. RHP A.J. Cole was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. He pitched once for Washington in May, winning a start vs. Philadelphia.

Mets: Star LF Yoenis Cespedes got a planned day off after starting three straight games. He spent six weeks on the DL with a strained hamstring and returned last weekend.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (6-4, 4.39 ERA) opposes LHP Justin Nicolino (0-1, 4.15) to begin a three-game series at Miami. Roark has given up a career-most three home runs to Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, but has held him to a .214 batting average (6 for 28).

Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-4, 4.48) starts against lefty ace Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.23) in the opener of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium. Wheeler is coming off the shortest start of his career, giving up eight runs in 1 2/3 innings vs. the Cubs.

MORE NATIONALS: Nats bullpen is one of the worst in last 40 years

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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.

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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.