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Padres squash Nationals

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Padres squash Nationals

Game in a nutshell: What looked like an advantageous matchup for the Nationals -- Stephen Strasburg against one of the majors' least-productive lineups -- turned sour right from the get-go. Strasburg surrendered three runs during a rain-delayed top of the first, gave up a homer in the third and never got on track. The Nationals' lineup, meanwhile, was shut down by the heretofore unheralded Anthony Bass. Only Bryce Harper, who connected for his second homer in as many days, managed to deliver for the Nationals.

Hitting highlight: There sure wasn't much to choose from in this category, so the gold star has to go to the kid. Less than 24 hours after clubbing his first career home run, Harper did it again, sending a 1-0 pitch from Bass into the center field bleachers. There was no curtain call this time for the rookie, but Harper did become the first teenager to hit big-league homers on consecutive days since Ken Griffey Jr. did it for the Mariners on May 20-21, 1989.
Pitching lowlight: You had a feeling this might not be Strasburg's day when the game's first batter lofted what looked like a routine fly ball to shallow left-center ... and then wound up on second base with a double after Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel and Ian Desmond watched it fall into the Bermuda Triangle. Things only got worse for Strasburg after that, especially after a cloudburst soaked everyone during that torturous first inning, resulting in an 8-minute delay. By the time it finally ended, Strasburg had allowed three runs and thrown a whopping 39 pitches. And because of that, the right-hander lasted only four innings, getting pulled with his pitch count at 81. It matched the second-shortest start of Strasburg's career.

Key stat: After giving up more than three earned runs only three times in their first 34 games this season, the Nationals rotation has now done it twice in as many days.
Up next: After wrapping up a rare, two-game series, the Nationals open another Wednesday night against the Pirates. Left-handers Gio Gonzalez and Erik Bedard square off at 7:05 p.m

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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.