Nationals

Quick Links

Nats fall to Orioles in extra innings

767094.png

Nats fall to Orioles in extra innings

Game in a nutshell: The first matchup between winning ballclubs from Washington and Baltimore in 42 years lived up to the billing, with Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta dueling each other on the mound. Jackson gave up one early run, then cruised. Arrieta cruised until serving up a solo homer to Ian Desmond in the sixth. That left this game in the hands of both bullpens. Tyler Clippard did his part in the top of the ninth, then Darren O'Day and Troy Patton retired the heart of the Nats' lineup in the bottom of the inning, sending this one to extras. That's when Nick Markakis took matters into his own hands, crushing a pitch from Ryan Mattheus off the facing of the second deck down the right-field line to give the Orioles an 11-inning victory before an energetic crowd of 36,680.
Hitting lowlight: They tried all night to get something going at the plate. In the end, Desmond's solo homer in the sixth represented the entirety of the Nationals' offensive effort. There were missed opportunities, and there was plenty of poor execution, especially during a failed seventh-inning rally. After Bryce Harper led off with a walk, Danny Espinosa fouled off a bunt with two strikes and Rick Ankiel and Jesus Flores each popped out.
Pitching highlight: The night started off really poorly for Jackson, who walked Xavier Avery to open the top of the first and then fell behind No. 2 hitter J.J. Hardy 3-0. But credit to the right-hander for bouncing back in a big-time way after that. Jackson didn't walk another batter all night and struck out eight over eight splendid innings. He also kept his pitch count to a relatively low 95, flashing shades of his complete-game win from last month.
Key stat: Desmond now has six homers. The only major-league shortstop with more this season is the Orioles' Hardy (nine).

Up next: Game 2 of this interleague series features a couple of starters who have surprised so far this season. Left-hander Ross Detwiler (3-2, 2.75) starts for the Nats against right-hander Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.68) for the Orioles. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m., with the game televised on Fox.

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.