GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals' season officially came to an end Sunday afternoon in the same ballpark where it unofficially turned two months ago. Ever since suffering a 3-game sweep at Citi Field right after the July 31 trade deadline, this team found itself playing catch-up, ultimately unable to do that to the eventual NL East champion Mets.
They took some solace during Saturday's day-night-doubleheader, capped by Max Scherzer's second no-hitter of the season. But they couldn't finish it off it style, with a lineup completely shut down by Jacob deGrom and a host of New York relievers. Tanner Roark did his part to keep pace, tossing six scoreless innings, but the Nationals bullpen (as was too often the case this year) couldn't hold on late. Blake Treinen served up a solo homer to Curtis Granderson in the bottom of the eighth, accounting for the only run of the day.
Bryce Harper, meanwhile, couldn't finish off his MVP season in style. Trying to stave off Miami's Dee Gordon for the NL batting title, Harper went 1-for-4, finishing with a .330 batting average and making the final out of a disappointing, 83-79 season.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: Harper entered the afternoon neck-and-neck with Gordon for the NL batting title, but this turned out to be a runaway on the final day of the season. Gordon started his game in Philadelphia with three straight hits, while Harper took himself out of the running with three straight groundouts. He did pull off a hustle double with two outs in the ninth, raising his average to .330. But it was too little, too late. It was a struggle down the stretch for the 22-year-old, who never seemed the same after going hitless against the Orioles last week. He may not have won the batting title, but his consolation prize won't be too shabby: the NL MVP award.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: It was a wild, up-and-down year for Roark, who was bounced between starting and relieving roles. But the right-hander finished strong. He tossed six scoreless innings of 3-hit ball in the season finale, doing so against the Mets' full lineup. Roark certainly appeared to be more comfortable once given a chance to start down the stretch. In six September starts, he posted a 3.98 ERA, finishing with back-to-back quality starts. Overall, Roark ends the season with a 4.38 ERA. What happens to him in 2016? Mike Rizzo suggested he'll at least be in contention for a rotation spot. But we've certainly seen that happen before and not work out how Tanner would have preferred. We'll see.
KEY STAT: The Nationals are now 855-924 over 11 seasons of baseball in the District. They've had four winning seasons, six losing seasons and one .500 season.
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