October 13, 2017
Sports Insider Weekly
What followed seemed like a continuous blooper reel–though no one in the stadium was laughing.
— Ceci Ferrara, Sports Writer on the Washington National’s loss in the playoffs
After another heartbreaking post-season exit, the Washington Nationals will once again try to find solace in the future.
One day after tying the NLDS with a 5-0 shutout, the Nats were poised to win their first-ever franchise division series at home on Friday. They scored first, leading 4-0 after the second inning, the sold-out crowd bustling with excitement. But by the time fans headed home 3-hours plus later, they were trying to grapple with how the game had unraveled.
Starter Gio Gonzalez got rattled in the third, giving up two runs to tighten the game. By the time two-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer entered in the fifth, Washington’s lead had shrunk to one. What followed seemed like a continuous blooper reel–though no one in the stadium was laughing.
“It was a series of bad events,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “It really hurts, you know, to lose like that, especially after what we went through all year long, and that was tough.”
In Scherzer’s one inning, the Cubs scored four runs–two unearned. They had three hits, an intentional walk, a catcher’s interference, were hit by a pitch, and one odd, game-changing play. Javier Baez swung and missed on strike three, but the ball went through catcher Matt Wieters’ glove and through his legs. By the time he collected the ball, he threw it past first base and into right field for an error–and a run had already scored.
“This game’s cruel sometimes,” Scherzer said. “Just the way things can happen.”
For the Nationals, things seem to happen this way more times than they’d care to recall. This is the fourth time in the past six years that the team has won their division and immediately lost in the first round of the playoffs. It is also the third time that they’ve lost at home in Game 5–first in 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals and last year against the Dodgers.
With two out and trailing by just one in the bottom of the ninth, the Nationals had a shot. One big swing by Bryce Harper, could have changed the game–and their history of post-season disappointment. Instead, the slugger struck out on ball four, swinging for the fences, hoping to be the hero. It was a disappointing ending, but one Nationals fans are not unfamiliar with.
After yet another one-and-done postseason berth, all the Nationals can do is look to the future, and hope to — as is the mantra in D.C. sports — do better next year.
Watch the final plays of the game here. >>> https://youtu.be/i3-Nf3cxlmg