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Stunned Nationals can't appreciate craziness of Game 5

Stunned Nationals can't appreciate craziness of Game 5

WASHINGTON — The Nationals hugged each other tightly, congratulated each other on a good season — a season that ended abruptly and painfully. 

This was a postseason classic, for sure. A game that will be talked about for years. 

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went to his closer, Kenley Jensen with none out in the seventh, and once the big man threw 51 pitches, it was time for Clayton Kershaw. 

Before the game, Roberts insisted that Kershaw would “absolutely not” pitch. The daring moves by Roberts didn’t matter to the Nationals. It was all too painful. 

“That’s what baseball’s about,” Bryce Harper said. “I thought we played a great five games, and we weren’t able to get the job done.” 

Harper could appreciate what happened. 

“They brought in their horse. They brought in the guy that’s got them through a lot of seasons. That’s why Clayton Kershaw is one of the best,” Harper said. 

Nationals manager Dusty Baker used six pitchers in the bizarre 66-minute seventh inning, one that saw the Dodgers score all four runs. 

After Joc Pederson homered off Max Scherzer, Baker started the parade with left-hander Marc Rzepycynski, who walked Yasmani Grandal, and that was Los Angeles’ second run. He took the loss.

“It starts with me. In the seventh inning, if I don’t walk that guy, who knows what happens?” Rzepczynski said. 

“They’re going to talk about how they brought Kenley in in the seventh inning and then Kershaw finished. No matter what, we came up a hit short. It’s going to be tough to swallow for a little bit, I know.”

Daniel Murphy finished the five game series with a .438 average (7-for-16). 

He scored the Nationals’ first run in the second inning but popped to second as Kershaw’s first batter. 

“In today’s game, in short playoff series, [you’re trying] to get your best relievers in the highest leverage situations, and he did, and then he doubled down and got maybe the best pitcher in the planet in there in the biggest spot of the entire game,” Murphy said. 

While he understood Roberts’ strategy, he couldn’t appreciate the theatre, the four hours, 32 minutes of wackiness. 

“Probably a little too close right now. The wound is still pretty fresh in here. I’ll probably more be thinking about the pitch that I got from Clayton that I thought I could have done a little bit more with,” Murphy said. 

“We’re not going to see each other until spring training. It’s frustrating and sad. Those are some of the things that hurt the most.”  

The stunned Harper who has now been part of three National League East title teams has seen his season end in the Division Series all three times. 

He wasn’t in the mood to reflect on the sheer amazement. That’s for fans. 

“I didn’t really think about what was going on or anything like that,” Harper said. 

“Watching from afar, you’re going to see everything that happens.” 

Had the Nationals won, Chris Heisey would have been a hero. He hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh that helped the craziness get started. 

“It happened really quick. It takes a little bit to sink in,” Heisey said. “I thought we had a chance the whole game.”

Early this season, Heisey ended a 16-inning game with the only game-ending home run of his career, so he knows dramatics. 

“It just wasn’t meant to be tonight,” Heisey said. 

“It was a great game to be a part of. It just stinks to be on this end of it.” 

[RELATED: Bullpen, baserunning cost Nats in loss to Dodgers]

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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.