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Scherzer exits with hamstring cramp, Nats fall to Bucs 4-1

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Scherzer exits with hamstring cramp, Nats fall to Bucs 4-1

WASHINGTON  -- Max Scherzer hopped awkwardly off the mound, putting the Nationals on edge in an otherwise meaningless playoff tuneup.

Now Washington is just hoping its ace has his legs back under him by the end of the week.

Scherzer was pulled with a right hamstring cramp in his final regular-season start, and NL East champion Washington lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 Saturday night.

Scherzer was not available to speak with reporters after the game. He left Nationals Park to get a precautionary MRI on the hamstring, according to a team spokesperson.

"We took him out for precaution," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "We gotta make it to the playoffs healthy. So we thought it was better that we make that move, the precautionary move, to get him ready."

Baker downplayed the severity of the injury, but with six days until Washington opens an NL Division Series at home against the Chicago Cubs, it did not want to take any chances with its NL Cy Young Award contender.

"In a bigger situation, he probably could have stayed in the game," Baker said.

Scherzer, who leads the league in strikeouts and is 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA, stumbled on a 2-2 pitch to Josh Bell in the fourth inning, briefly jumped around the mound and bent over at the waist.

Scherzer then began to throw a full-count pitch, but abruptly stopped when time was called.

Baker, pitching coach Mike Maddux and team trainers visited the mound and quickly took out Scherzer.

Scherzer had given up one hit and struck out five, raising his season total to 268, in 3 1/3 scoreless innings when he was hurt.

The Pirates rallied with four runs in the ninth inning off Brandon Kintzler (2-1). Sean Rodriguez singled home the tying run with Pittsburgh trailing 1-0 and down to its final strike. Max Moroff later hit a bases-loaded triple.

Scherzer, 33, has now left four of his last 10 starts with various ailments.

The two-time Cy Young winner left an Aug. 1 start at Miami with neck spasms.

On Aug. 19, Scherzer was scratched from a scheduled start against San Diego and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a recurrence of that neck injury. It was his first stint on the DL since 2009.

On Sept. 2, Scherzer took a line drive off his left calf in the first inning of a game at Milwaukee and was pulled after 75 pitches when the muscle tightened at the end of the fifth inning.

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Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

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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.