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Backs against the wall

Oct 11, 2012, 12:44 AM EDT

Associated Press photo
Bryce Harper, Michael Morse and Co. face a surprising elimination game Thursday.

For six months, they could stake claim to the title of "Best Team in Baseball." And after they won their first-ever postseason game Sunday afternoon, the Nationals had every reason to continue crowing about themselves.

Then they got beat up in St. Louis on Monday. Then they got beat up again on Wednesday, this time in front of a record-setting home crowd that gave the first playoff game in Washington in eight decades into a true playoff atmosphere.

And now, in the span of 72 hours, the "Best Team in Baseball" finds itself 27 outs from elimination before many on the roster have even had a chance to process what is going on.

"This isn't the situation we wanted to be in," shortstop Ian Desmond said following an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLDS. "But we're here and we're going to deal with it, justRead more »

109 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. RickH - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    Well, I had hoped I wouldn't "have" to use my Game 5 tickets because we would wrap it up before then. But if we have to win it all in five games, so be it!!!

  2. Secret wasian man - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    It's been a great season and a lot of fun. But I can't see us even coming close tomorrow. This team is no match for,the cards.m

  3. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    This team is no match for,the cards.Then its likely no team is. But, we'll see … Davey isn't going to throw in the towel.

  4. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:08 AM

    The Nat's were pretty much bent over the sink without lube today. I am confident they will come back Thursday with a win. They had to have been embarrassed and will want to clean their hands of it.

  5. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    I'm all in on Det in Game 5. Pitching at 5 p.m. is going to be a huge advantage (for both Det and Lohse) as the shadows and late-afternoon light make it tough on the hitters. We get the lead, we'll be fine.On the bright side, whew! What a day! Tremendous atmosphere. If D.C. isn't a baseball town, people didn't have eyes today.It was great meeting my imaginary friends (in person) as well as Our Leader (Mark, you looked stunning in your TV suit. Very nice!). You guys and ladies made my day.Unfortunately, I have drained my Maalox bottle. A lot of it went down in the bottom of the second inning. CVS had better be stocking up.Go Det, I'll see you all for Game 5. And there WILL be a Game 5. As Davey sez, he's been in worse situations. And won the whole thing.Overall, great, great day at the park. Not a great outcome, but a great day. Thanks to all.

  6. SonnyG10 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    If the pitching holds and the offense explodes tomorrow, the outlook will do a 180. It can and has happened this year. GYGNG!!!!

  7. NatsNut - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    Don't get me wrong, I'm still crazy for this team, including Detwiler. The kid has impressed me (just about) all year. But you're telling me that between him, Gio, Edwin and Jordan, Detwiler is our STOPPER? After those last two starts of his? Oy. Unless he channels Levale Speigner, I just don't know.

  8. NatsNut - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    Hilarious quote from Nats Enquirer:Update: the game is over, but the Nationals reportedly just stranded another runner in scoring position. 11 LOB on this day.Boy, the Nats really could use Stephen Strasburg's bat…

  9. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    Their only players who have recorded a hit with a man on second or third base in this series: Suzuki, Tyler Moore and Jordan Zimmermann.That says it all. Well, for these three games. Hopefully there will be a lot more to say over the next two games!

  10. DJB - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Can the entire rotation choke? I guess Rizzo will need to invest in some sports psychologists in the offseason, or, better yet, get some pitchers who don't choke. Rizzo's going to need to make a splash in the offseason after all the negativity surrounding the Stras shutdown.

  11. RickH - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Unfortunately, I didn't see the post about meeting up before the game until it was too late. If there's a game 5, maybe we can do that again.

  12. Dave - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    It was great to meet some Insiders today. Nice to talk with Joe Seamhead, Sunshine Bobby, JaneB, and Mark. It was fantastic to see the ballpark full to overflowing and loud (as long as there was something to be loud about).Not so wonderful to witness another shutout. (My last game was clinch day versus the Phillies.)I, too, was hoping not to have to use my game 5 tickets, but now I hope I get to see a game on Friday.Incidentally (picking up from the previous thread), the notion that Rizzo is a "failure" because these Nats–whose win record improved by 19 games in one year–haven't dominated the NLDS is beyond my ability to comprehend.Rizzo and Johnson have built a very good team that will be very good for several years. They gave us six months plus of excellent baseball. I hope the boys will pull it out of the fire this week, but even if they don't, this team is an enormous success.

  13. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:34 AM

    Totally agree, Dave, and it was great meeting and chatting with you. Loved meeting JaneB, Joe Seamhead and the "interlopers." That hour before the game turned out to be the highlight of the day. You never know with baseball, do you?

  14. NatsJim - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    Just got home from the game a little while ago – it's a shame they played so poorly when the place was SO ready to explode, but never got the chance. I think we'll be fine, Det's gonna pitch lights out tomorrow, the bats are going to awaken, and Gio's going to be dominant on Friday. Nats in 5 baby!!

  15. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    Can we sign free agents before tomorrow's game? Maybe clone Strasburg in time. I am running out of ideas to replace Detwiler.

  16. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Detwiler is our STOPPER? After those last two starts of his? Oy. Unless he channels Levale Speigner, I just don't know.Better than Lannan … let's hope … if he pulls Detwiler the team will think he's panicking … that they really did need Strasburg (per Ken Rosenthal's wonderful article). No panicking allowed, They have to continue to behave like a team that just finished winning 98 games just because they'll lose the team if they don't.

  17. DJB - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    Look, Manny Machado just hit a homerun, and Wei-Yin Chen, the Taiwanese reclamation project, pitched lights out yesterday against the Yankees. But Rizzo is just doing a bang-up job with the Nats.

  18. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    Gee, I came to the meetup at 12:20, and most everybody was gone (except JaneB and natsfana)!On another matter:DJB said… Can the entire rotation choke? I guess Rizzo will need to invest in some sports psychologists in the offseason, or, better yet, get some pitchers who don't choke.Might the problem be (at least with JZ) — never pitched so many innings before and getting worn down? (Although I guess that's not true with Gio or EJax…)

  19. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    Look, Manny Machado just hit a homerun, and Wei-Yin Chen, the Taiwanese reclamation project, pitched lights out yesterday against the Yankees. But Rizzo is just doing a bang-up job with the Nats.Truth comes out: Orioles troll alert.Let's see how they do next year shall we? The Orioles went for one-and-done because they knew the Nats were going to be very, very good this year and for a very long time. Reclamation projects might work for a year but then after that? That's how the Nat's were run under Jim Bowden who was famous for reclamation projects like Dmitri Young.Please go back to your Orioles blog now DJB. Thank you.

  20. phil dunton - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    Now we know why Jackson has pitched for a different team just about every season he's been in the majors. Don't bring him back next year. The Cardinals are a smart franchise. They go out and sign free agents like Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman while Rizzo signs duds like Jason Werth, Matt Stairs, Mark DeRosa, Xavier Nady and Johnny Gomes. We are stuck with Werth for five more seasons and he has been reduced to a powerless singles hitter with rapidly aging legs.

  21. JaneB - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    I just want to say Ian has not choked. He has been hitting better than anyone. It's not his fault no one is on base ahead of him.Still. We get to see five games of playoff baseball this week. That's how I look at it. Getting ready for the Giants next week.

  22. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:57 AM

    phil, secret wasian . . . you didn't disappoint. On one hand we have the constructive criticizers — on your hand: the wet blanket gloom and doom squad.

  23. DJB - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Gonzalez just completed a 7-inning gem against the Yanks, again. He was pitching long-relief in triple-A. Actually, I can't stand the O's, but Rizzo must take responsibility for the post-season faceplant. 98 wins means nothing if you choke in the post-season. I'm sick of Washington teams racking up regular seasons only to choke at the briefest hint of pressure. And I don't drink the Rizzo coolaid.

  24. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    It is easy to see why we are in trouble. We have only 5 people have played well enough to win the series. Ian Desmond , Ryan Zimmermann, Tyler Moore, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.The Cards only 1 who has not played well enough Jamie Garcia.That means 20% of the Nats played well enough and the Cards 96%.Tomorrow the team must turn this around. When ony 3 hits with RISP and all either from the 8th and 9 th batting spot just shows lack of execution by others.

  25. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    Xavier Nady and Johnny Gomes.After they were released from the Nats these two players did pretty well for their respective teams, the Giants and the A's who both made the playoffs?Doesn't anyone here have a brain … there's no sign of intelligent life in the gloom and doom squad … we need Curiosity to lower its pooper scooper and shake them all away!

  26. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    but Rizzo must take responsibility for the post-season faceplant. 98 wins means nothing if you choke in the post-season. This is the first time a Washington team has made the playoffs since 1933 moron. What do you compare it against? The Orioles who desperately sought out ways not to be left behind by the wealthier franchise in DC? Shall we compare this to Montreal seasons in the playoffs which also go back quite a ways? Or to last year's record of 80 wins? That's an 18 game improvement in case Math isn't your strong suit (which I suspect may unfortunately be true). Please go to an Orioles blog.

  27. SCNatsFan - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    One good game pushes the trolls back into the ditch.Simple formula… our stars play like stars and we win. If not I trust Rizzo keeps this team headed in the right direction.Not ready to throw the towel in on this season just yet, not by a longshot.

  28. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    Oh and I don't see hide nor hair of Lance Berkkman in this playoff series Phil. Do you?

  29. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    If the O's advance and Nats doesn't I will be not happy.However I assume we will tomorrow and Friday.

  30. natsfan1a - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    I'm sick of Washington teams racking up regular seasons only to choke at the briefest hint of pressure. Then root somewhere else. The Nats ain't the Caps, bud; they have absolutely nothing to do with each other, except that they play in the same city. None of the other teams, including the Nats, have made the playoffs in years, so what are you talking about?but Rizzo must take responsibilityThe Nats went from two 100+ loss seasons, then improved by 10 games, then 11, then by 18 to get to 98 games. Yeah, I'll give Rizzo some credit for that. Thanks.

  32. natsfan1a - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    Someone said the other day that the Giants were done. Evidently that team didn't get the memo.(cue the Animal House Pearl Harbor scene) Well, call me a glutton for punishment, but this series isn't over yet either, and thanks to a buddy with a spare ticket, I aim to be there again tomorrow to see what happens. Who's with me? Okay, then try to get some sleep and report back here in the a.m. The rest of you, carry on. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow. :-)

  33. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    It ain't over until I say it's over. I assume the Nats will win the next two. Howevereveryone on the team needs to be on board. Too many have not been on bosrd.

  34. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    thanks to a buddy with a spare ticket, I aim to be there again tomorrow to see what happens. Who's with me?I'm with ya'!Just got on stubhub and got two tickets for me and Mrs Wonk.Meet again at the 312 picnic tables?(PS: there were some standing room tix going for $24 a few minutes ago)

  35. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    However everyone on the team needs to be on board. Too many have not been on bosrd.According to Rosenthal there is some divisive dissent among the players relative to the Strasburg shutdown. Some purportedly told him they would have been up 2-0 if Stras had started game 1. That is enough to put a damper on playoff effort and enthusiasm if any feel that the team isn't supporting them by putting their best foot forward. Its a tough decision that Rizzo made … if they lose quickly …

  36. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    How about that Old Nat killer Raul Ibanez pinch hits for AROD and homers to tie the games.

  37. natsfan1a - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    Sounds good, Wonk.I'm so glad that I didn't run into Rosenthal at the park today. I told my husband beforehand that I couldn't be held responsible for my behavior if I did. Well, I wouldn't have done anything that would have gotten me thrown out of the park, because then I'd miss the game. :-)

  38. natsfan1a - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul!! (What the? See, this is why I can't watch some games.)

  39. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Peric that shouldnt even been a discussion as this been their policy for over 2 years now so that shouldnt be an issue. I refuse to even worry about that.

  40. Drew - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    Sorry I missed the meet-up. I meant to go, but in driving in from Richmond, I didn't get to my seat in Section 137 until 12:45.Mark and Sunshine are right. It was an electric atmosphere and it was great fun until Edwin's start put the Nats in a big hole.After the ump missed the call on Espinosa's bunt, we all booed, then got over it. Throwing stuff on the field like the morons did in Atlanta just wouldn't happen at Nats Park.One thought on Matt Skole's big day in the AFL. He played first base today. The Nats will find a spot for that big bat.

  41. Constant Reader - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    A couple of quick comments finally getting back on the board.The frustrating thing about today was Carpenter was there for the taking. He was far from overpowering. Wainwright struck out 10 with 18 called strikes and 16 swinging strikes. Carpenter struck out 2 with 23 called strikes and 5 swinging strikes. Heck, EJax at least produced 7 swinging strikes while throwing batting practice at times. Point being, we were putting the ball in play against Carpenter but lacked the clutch hit … 10 LOB in the first six (when it was still a game). That was so frustrating. Win tomorrow and the last two games are forgotten. We absolutely can. Staying positive.

  42. Section 3, My Playoffs Sofa - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    I can believe Rosenthal wrote that. I don't believe he heard it. Aside from the fact that Strasburg would be one more starter who got lit up from missing in the strike zone.

  43. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:58 AM

    Peric that shouldnt even been a discussion as this been their policy for over 2 years now so that shouldnt be an issue. I refuse to even worry about that.I agree entirely. But, if Rosenthal isn't lying and players are griping about it? That's not good for a team attempting to navigate through the playoffs. It tends to support JayB's observation (and contention) that parts of the team lack spirit and look defeated? I know I don't like that … whether Stras pitches or sits it reminds me of the days of losing … and that leaves a hateful, bitter taste behind. I do hope Jasyon Werth isn't one of those players because he is the very last guy who should even be thinking that.

  44. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    Just take the field and kick ass. That's all we want.

  45. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:05 AM

    natsfan1a said… Sounds good, Wonk.OK — anybody else for the pre-game meet up?

  46. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    WOW Ibanez homers again.

  47. Section 222 - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:13 AM

    Ibanez. That is just sick.

  48. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    YES crush the verdamned Birdland Birds! Do it to them the way you did it to the Nats Raul!

  49. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Raul again.

  50. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    Either Rosenthal, or whoever he's quoting, is an idiot. And the talking heads are idiots, too.I haven't seen _anyone_ note that Strasburg had an ERA of 4.50 in his last five starts, and 6.43 in his last three starts.Who knows? Perhaps Stras' arm would be falling off by now (a whole month later), and we'd have killed his future.

  51. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    Well Nats have a chance to prove tomorrow they are not like the Caps and can play in the playoffs.

  52. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    On the other hand they could be just like the Caps and throw away the first round series after going in as the top seed

  53. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:26 AM

    I'm kinda happy that there's another team that pitches Ibanez as poorly as we did when he used to hammer us with the Phillies.

  54. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:32 AM

    Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said… I'm all in on Det in Game 5. Pitching at 5 p.m. is going to be a huge advantage (for both Det and Lohse) as the shadows and late-afternoon light make it tough on the hitters.I don't think that's correct. I'm pretty sure the shadow is well past the pitcher's mound by 5pm. (It may be hard on the out fielders, but that's different)============BTW, when you guys were talking about Ibanez, I thought you were still talking about this 9th inning HR. I didn't realize he hit another. Man I hate those Yankees!

  55. Steady Eddie - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    Wonk, I suspect most or all of us here but the sad specimens understand and have long accepted your point. Re Rosenthal, what he's doing isn't really a matter of whether he's lying or not. How "Journalism" going for a narrative works is for the narrative creator to ask speculative, leading questions to put words in the mouths of his interviewees (like, "do you think it's possible that if Strasburg had been pitching in the NLDS and had one of his lights-out starts, that you would be leading the series by now?", and when the player answers "maybe, who knows?", Rosenthal can write whatever he wants. All he needs is a not-clearly-dissenting grunt from a player to make his preset narrative into something he pretends he's found.

  56. Steady Eddie - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:49 AM

    BTW, good stats on Stras' latest starts, Wonk. He was getting more and more hit or miss in the late summer, with more misses than hits. While I imagine the Rosenthals would cite his last good start as being against the Cards here in DC, they would not only omit what an exception to the trend that was, but that EJax had a lights-out start against the Cards at Nats Park on August 30, and look at what a great predictor that was.

  57. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:56 AM

    The more I think about it … the more it seems that this game is a must win not just for the team, fans whatever but for the organization. They can't let the Cardinals have an easy cake walk to the NLCS in their ballpark. They've got to stop them in this game and at least force a game 5 where anything can happen.

  58. Section 3, My Playoffs Sofa - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    Meetup? Before tomorrow's game? Tables?

  59. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    I'm not really sure I want to go … I am beginning to wonder if I am bad luck … nah, its probably JayB. :)Maybe they should let Teddy lose miserably?

  60. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    Generally there is a high level of discussion on here.Today, the inanity of the comments is dispiriting. Does anyone who posts here even understand statistics? The Washington Post did a long article last week about how the best team in baseball seldom, if ever wins the World Series.Why do they play 162 games instead of 81 or 15? It is because there is no difference essentially between a team that wins 98 games and another that wins 92 games. But everyone on here seems to think that they can find meaning in two day's worth of games.You can't. Stop trying. It is the height of idiocy. It takes a least a 9 game series between 2 teams and maybe more, for a series to have statistical significance in baseball. What Ryan Zimmerman (Billy Beane) said was exactly right. The one thing that might have help a little (or it might not have) would be having Strasburg, but that ship has sailed.And it has nothing to do with experience. That is another garbage comment. The O's in 1971 had plenty of guys who had won multiple World Series and blew a 2-0 lead to the Pirates, losing in 7 games. It certainly wasn't because Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson and Paul Blair and Davey Johnson lacked experience.Basically, Ryan Zimmerman is one hundred percent right and almost everyone who has posted about the Nats choking, or lacking experience or not being built for the post-season is full of ….

  61. Feel Wood - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:03 AM

    Raul Ibanez is now the only player to have earned the middle initial F in both Baltimore and Washington. The only other thing that so unites the two fanbases is hatred of Angelos.

  62. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:08 AM

    I find that there are plenty of people in Maryland who like both the Ravens and Redskins and Nationals and Orioles. This isn't New York where you have to hate one to like the other. I was sorry to see the O's lose and I certainly don't think their winning diminishes the Nats in any way. The O's have been incredibly lucky this year based up on run production and run prevention, and tonight their luck may have finally run out.

  63. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    I find that there are plenty of people in Maryland who like both the Ravens and Redskins and Nationals and Orioles.Not in my neck of the woods … and certainly not in Arbutus, Dundalk, or Fells Point. The Ravens (even though they are really just the original Cleveland Browns) relish every opportunity to stick it to the Skins … even exhibitions games.And as for the Oriole versus DC baseball quagmire … a lot of the current animosity does stem from the current owner and his recently deceased bosom pal the former Governor of Baltimore. I have to constantly remind myself that the Baltimore ownership group at the time voted against Bob Short and his move to Texas with the expansion Senators. But things changed with Angel'hoes and Schaefer.

  64. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    That was interesting. The Orioles seemed to perceive at the time that the loss of fans from DC coming to the Senators-Orioles games was more of a loss than any potential gain of fans from the greater area.Still, it is childish for me to "hate" the Orioles, a team that I have mildly rooted for, just because DC now has a team. I dislike Angelos a bit, but nowhere as much as Danny, who has done much more to ruin the Redskins than Angelos has done to ruin the O's. At least Angelos doesn't charge $40 to park and he doesn't sue his own season ticket holders.

  65. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:21 AM

    Why do they play 162 games instead of 81 or 15? It is because there is no difference essentially between a team that wins 98 games and another that wins 92 games.Well statistically it certainly does … it could change the standard deviation … in any case its still a comparison sample attempting to describe a population. After 40 games you have what is deemed a reasonable sample size. After that every single game improves the accuracy of the model.

  66. peric - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    I dislike Angelos a bit, but nowhere as much as Danny, who has done much more to ruin the Redskins than Angelos has done to ruin the O's. At least Angelos doesn't charge $40 to park and he doesn't sue his own season ticket holders.No, instead Angelos and Schaefer "fixed things' so that Jack Kent Cooke's new stadium ended up in one of the armpits of PG County. A place that renowned "cheap" owner bailed on because it was bad for his two sports franchises. He removed to the Capital Centre. So, the Skins are stuck in the armpit. Attempts to place the stadium in Montgomery County were blocked by these men in order to ensure the success of the soon-to-be Ravens football franchise.Then, there's DC baseball. It was no problem for them to have you spend more than $40 to travel to Baltimore to see the Orioles. That after all was their goal. Heck if they could they would have killed the Redskins to force DC patrons to find football in Baltimore. I could go back through the whole sordid back room history of these men and the tax dollars they heisted to make Baltimore a better sports town than DC … but hey its probably not worth it.

  67. Gabor Mehes - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:29 AM

    Davey is a player's manager, that is, he will put the same pathetic lineup out, players who play without energy or without a clue. The team was mediocre in September and then it lost its best pitcher. He should have put Lombardozzi to second base and switch Morse and Desmond in the lineup.

  68. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    All these people talking about how clutch the Cards are seem to be forgetting the 8-1 and 10-0 pastings by the Nats at the end of August, along with the sweep of the Cards by the San Diego Padres, that well-noted franchise for its annual baseball excellence.I also seem to remember a Cards team a few years back that won over 100 games but who then lost the World Series in four straight games, one of the worst beatings of all time, and yet would go on to win the World Series twice as a wild card. Baseball knows it has a problem with the wild cards winning too much. They set out to try to hamper the wild cards with the new format, but apparently, it wasn't enough. Any team in baseball can beat any team in baseball three games out of five at any time. It is not noteworthy. There is no point in screaming at Espinosa or Harper or anyone else. The balls either fall fair, luckily, like Tyler Moore's did the other day, weakly hit as it was, or they are caught, as was Espinosa's rocket yesterday, surely a much more "clutch" hit than Moore's weak single. But that is the way it goes in a series that lasts less than a week's worth of play….

  69. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:34 AM

    You are forgetting about the original site in Arlandria, Virginia, which would have been perfect. Wilder supported it. It had Metro, but all the whiners in Nova said it would bring in riff-raff. Last time I checked, the area was full of big box stores.I agree that the location of the Redskins' stadium is terrible. I refuse to go out there for anything anymore, concerts or what have you. It is impossible to get in and out of and the parking rates are exhorbitant.

  70. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:43 AM

    Whatever happens tomorrow, people should try to remember that the MLB play-offs most resemble the NCAA basketball play-offs.Dean Smith and others have said that you could replay the NCAA play-offs and you would almost always have a different champion every time. There is simply a huge random factor in a one and out tournament, just as there is in a short series in baseball.

  71. Joe Seamhead - Oct 11, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    Two points from me:I grew up a Senators fan. I didn't like the Orioles then,and I don't like them now.I became a Nats fan the day we got the team. I was a Nats fan at the stadium yesterday, and will be today, and tomorrow, and for all of the tomorrows yet to come.It was great to put a face to all of the names to the folks that came up to sec.312's tables.GYFNG!!!

  72. baseballswami - Oct 11, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    I am just so sick of the attitude that if you don' t win the World Series then your season means nothing. This year was a giant leap for the Nats, who had never even had a winning season!!! Look at the expensive moves some teams made and did not even get a wild card spot. This season the team came into it's own. They seem to have run out of steam after overcoming adversity so many times. Just say no to the all or nothing crap.

  73. Dave - Oct 11, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    I'm glad to see so many people here who share my appreciation for the obvious good work Rizzo and company did this year.Of course, they improved 18 games, not 19 like I wrote before. Whichever. It's still an amazing leap forward.Those of you who are going to today's game: cheer loudly and enjoy the team on this 11th day of October.

  74. baseballswami - Oct 11, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    While most people are speculating on what things would have been like with STras – probably the same, as there is no offense — I find myself wondering what it would have been like if Lannan had been there to come in by about inning 3 to stop the bleeding. I keep looking back to his stopper game against the Braves ( yeah, the Braves, who are home watching tv in their underwear). I know, no crying over spilled milk. No matter what happens today, I would like to see the Nats play a good game and play like we all know they can. Go Nats!!! I feel very cheated that I couldn't see any of the pre-game stuff. Was it on tv at all? I dvr'd the game and watched from about 3-4 – did mlb cover the cool stuff before that?

  75. natsfan1a - Oct 11, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Yep, behind 312.Section 3, My Playoffs Sofa said… Meetup? Before tomorrow's game? Tables? October 10, 2012 11:57 PM

  76. rabbit34 - Oct 11, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Come On . They had the best record in baseball, but realistically, they are not the BEST team in baseball. Even if they won the World Series, they are not the best team in baseball. This is one big learning and tweaking year. There are lots of tweaks to iron out. But even in spite of that it has been a good year. It was a fun year. Now that it is about over it has been a satisfying year.

  77. mick - Oct 11, 2012 at 11:07 AM

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  78. mick - Oct 11, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    A's come back in 9th to tie series, Giants win 2 on road to tie series. I bet O's tie series tonight as one pitch kept them from going up 2-1. Machado as a rookie and 20 year old is putting Bryce to shame in the post season, pitchers with ERA's over 6.00 (Saunders) are stepping up an performing.Do our Nats have heart and pride? They HAVE to at least tie series.

  79. MicheleS - Oct 11, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    So whatever the feud is between Rosenthal and Heyman, it's funny to read the two. Rosenthal with his article yesterday on the Stras shutdown and Heyman's counter to it last night. Love when the national reporters have a feud.

  80. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    MicheleS, the feud isn't between them, it's the Boras connection and the fact Stras is a high profile Boras client.

  81. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Enjoyable watching 2 walkoffs last night. Yankees walkoff on Angelos and Coco Crisp with a walkoff against the Tigers.

  82. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    All the years Raúl Ibáñez crushed the Nats, now he is doing it to the Orioles. A pinch-hit 9th inning HR to tie the game and the walkoff in his next atbat.That will put him in the highlight reels of YES Yankeeography

  83. Feel Wood - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    rabbit34 said… Come On . They had the best record in baseball, but realistically, they are not the BEST team in baseball. Even if they won the World Series, they are not the best team in baseball.There is no such thing as the BEST team in baseball, just as there is no such thing as the BEST runner in the world. Who would that be, the winner of the 100 yard dash or the winner of the marathon? Those are different events, just as the baseball regular season and the postseason are different events. The only thing is, in order to participate in the postseason a team has to win the regular season – or at least be good enough to sneak out of it as a wild card. And there's another thing, too. There are only two ways for a team to end the year on a high note. One is to finish strong but not make it to the postseason, like the Nats did last year. The other is to win it all in the postseason. So every season from now on, there will be nine very good teams who end the year with a sour taste in their mouths because they reached the postseason but lost out in it, and several teams who are probably not as good but who feel great because they had a good year and didn't get the chance to spoil it in the postseason. Which of these is the BEST team in baseball? Who knows?

  84. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    The only thing I can do today is wish them best. If they win, thanks for at least one more home game. if they lose, it is not the end of the world and it is not like this is baseball's last season unless Mayans were right (which I doubt).

  85. Scott Margenau - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Great year no matter what. Rabbit I agree about the "tweaks." but lets wait till the season is over to dive into that. Peric! Stop calling people morons…u make your point without name calling. Obviously he was talking bout the caps…One thing I can blame the nats for is this hangover….so upset! But it's a new day…and we WILL win…crush actually. GYFNG!!

  86. natscan reduxit - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    … it's no great secret that the Nats may win today, or they may lose. The brutal fact is this is MLB playoff baseball, and it's no walk in the park. Only the teams that can rise to the occasion get to move on, and in a real sense, that's a good thing. That's what sport is all about.… this team is a very good team, and their season has been a great season – for them, for Washington, for you and for me. But it may be over. There's no shame in that! There is disappointment, frustration, heartache, dashed hopes and dreams. But there's no shame. It's life.… when people utter the famous phrase, "wait until next year", they often do so with a smirk and a wink, as though it's merely a cliche, a joke. It's no joke at all. It's a promise – to the fans, to the opposition, and to the players themselves. This team, if it doesn't move on today, can say with pride and with the utmost assurance, wait until next year, because these Nationals are here to stay for a long time yet.Go Nats!! and don't stop!

  87. mick - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    The Strass burg issue is ABSURD, especially the way the team has failed to hit and is 0-8 with RISP!I would have thought that all the adversity the Nats have gone through would have enabled them to get through this… we will find out today, I will be there.Let me add something nobody has brought up… after game one, I thought it was highly disrespectful of Davey referring to the Cards relief pitcher has "whats his name" I bet Davey knows all their names now and Matheny, a rookie manager has totally out coached Davey.The A's were down 2 runs in 9th and FOUGHT back… can this team show some fight??? If a single player on Nats uses Strass shutdown as an excuse for the teams play, that player is a ZERO in my book. On Mike and Mike, they just had dave Stewart on and Greaney asked if the team could be effected by Strass shutdown… he said No, I hope not because then we have a team like the 1976 and 1977 Phillies who played uninspiring playoff ball and found all kinds of excuses for their failures.

  88. mick - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    natscan reduxit there is no shame if they lose the series, but look at how the other teams who trailed 0-2 have fought back, my goodness look at teh GIANYS winning 2 in row on the road and dominating.. Nats have shown NO FIGHT and that is a problem

  89. NatsLady - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    If a single player on Nats uses Strass shutdown as an excuse for the teams play, that player is a ZERO in my book. On Mike and Mike, they just had dave Stewart on and Greaney asked if the team could be effected by Strass shutdown… he said No, I hope not because then we have a team like the 1976 and 1977 Phillies who played uninspiring playoff ball and found all kinds of excuses for their failures.Word. The Nats won plenty of games Stras didn't start. Get off the dime and play baseball, boys.

  90. Steady Eddie - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Det — stopper of the 5-game losing streak in late August. He CAN do this. Will he, is a test in part of McCatty's helping with mental preparation.

  91. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Rosenthal with his article yesterday on the Stras shutdown and Heyman's counter to it last night. Do you (or anybody) have a link to that?For that matter, is the SI story on Davey "the rogue manager" online anywhere?

  92. mick - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM

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  93. mick - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Eddie… will the team hit the freakin ball, will Morse and Adam show some pride and hit with men on base, will Bryce prove he is leaps and bounds a better player than Machado who has totally out played him against a tougher opponent, will Davey stop being rigid and arrogant and play Lombo over Espi who is killing this team as an automatic out? I think Det will pitch well.

  94. natscan reduxit - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    … mick, sometimes what appears to be "no fight" is simply a case of their pitcher being better than our hitters. Now I'll agree that when any player folds under pressure that's cause for concern. But often, what seems like folding under pressure is nothing more than a good team coming up against a better team. That's simply a fact of sport and all fans everywhere have had to learn it – sometimes the hard way.Go Nationals!!

  95. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    peric said… The more I think about it … the more it seems that this game is a must win not just for the team, fans whatever but for the organization. They can't let the Cardinals have an easy cake walk to the NLCS in their ballpark.Nahh . . . whatever happens, the Nats are light years ahead of where they were just two years ago, and are, in some sense "ahead of schedule." Next year we have a bunch of young 'uns who will mature and be better (Harper, Espi, Storen, Ramos, etc are all pretty young) and a full year of Strasburg.To reiterate the "small sample size" thoughts — let's not forget that last year a wild-card team (Cardinals) knocked off the team with the best record in baseball (102 wins) and went on to win the world series. It happens. I've must've written a dozen times — prior to the season ending — that the playoffs are a crapshoot.The following also happens: the Mets were down 3 games to two in the WS — down a couple of runs, and had nobody on base, two outs, and their batter had two strikes. They came back to win, and then won game seven the next day.And Davey was the manager.Ya' never know.

  96. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  97. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    …… mick, sometimes what appears to be "no fight" is simply a case of their pitcher being better than our hitters.… and just a few batters that happen to be in slumps at the time.And, yes, to your point: while the Nats led the NL in WHIP this year, the Cards were a close second. They're a good pitching team, and they're a good hitting team (2d in the NL in batting and runs/game).

  98. NatsLady - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Wonk, enjoyed meeting you yesterday, plus all the other NI types. I hope there are no empty seats today, and no boos (as apparently happened at the Reds game). Whatever happens, the Nats, Rizzo and Davey have given us a GREAT year, a year I won't forget. I'm thinking they want more, and so do I.

  99. mick - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Peric…. how does one explain the success of the O's and A's whom nobody picked to even have a prayer of post season?? At least the Nats were picked by all to have a winning record. Already hearing the typical excuses that we ran into hot pitching etc… just like with the Caps and the mythical hot goal tender. There is no hot pitching involved when Morse has the bases loaded and he swings at a slider that falls 2 feet away from the plate.This is ridiculous and how any one can be proud of this post season performance verse team we won the regular season series from and only clinch a playoff berth after the Dodgers lost is beyond me!

  100. NatsLady - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    You all know that I'm not a Morse fan. He looked terrible in LF, and choked at the plate. But when he's on it's great to see. I was at the game when he hit the grand slam and the place went wild. Everyone was hoping for the same yesterday. I sincerely hope Mikey is not the one "making excuses." We need you today.

  101. natsfan1a - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Very sorry to have missed it, but my husband couldn't get out of work as early as hoped. Some of us will be doing it again today, same place (picnic tables behind 312), one hour before the game.NatsLady said… Wonk, enjoyed meeting you yesterday, plus all the other NI types. I hope there are no empty seats today, and no boos (as apparently happened at the Reds game). Whatever happens, the Nats, Rizzo and Davey have given us a GREAT year, a year I won't forget. I'm thinking they want more, and so do I. October 11, 2012 9:06 AM

  102. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    NatsLady — it was a pleasure to meet you, too (and JaneB). And — doh! — why didn't I take a picture?!As for meeting up again today, I expect I can get there (312 picnic benches) by 3:30 — hope folks are still there! Natsfan1a, looking forward to meeting you, too!

  103. natsfan1a - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Will watch for you, Wonk. I even made a (cheesy little) sign just now. :-)

  104. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    There is no hot pitching involved when Morse has the bases loaded and he swings at a slider that falls 2 feet away from the plate.That's not necessarily true. Morse has been around. He batted .291 this year. Sometimes a good pitcher can set up a good batter and fool him badly. Sometimes it's good pitching. Sometimes it's a f**-up by the batter. It happens. That's why the best batters make outs two out of three times.But before we put too much blame on Morse, Espi, et al . . . let's not forget, too, that our pitching — ranked #1 all year — gave up 20 runs the last two games. And gave up 26 runs in three games against the Cards on the last weekend of the regular season, too. (And then the Cards finished the regular season by taking 2 of 3 from the Reds — the NL's second best record time). The Cards are on a roll, and the Nats aren't. Tough combination.

  105. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    natsfan1a said… Will watch for you, Wonk. I even made a (cheesy little) sign just now. :-)Excellent! Thanks! Yesterday I was walking around the 312 benches asking for "Nats Insiders" and the first couple of tables I asked didn't know what I was talking about. (They said, "well, yeah, sort of" and had a blank look on their face).But I'll recognize NatsLady if she's there. And I'm easily recognizable — I have a fairly significant salt-n-pepper beard.

  106. A DC Wonk - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    new post

  107. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    I always wonder how many people on here have actually played baseball before. Many of the comments lead me to believe that they have not.Baseball is nothing like football or basketball. Theoretically, in those sports, players can attempt to play harder, or more aggressively when faced with adversity. Teams can attempt to play high-risk schemes, like pressing in basketball, or resorting to 3 point shotsBaseball is not like that. You either hit the ball or you don't. Pride has very little to do with it. Saying a player lacks pride because he fails to get a hit is simply ludicrous. The whole idea of attempting to find meaning in the Nats play by looking at the last 2 games is ludicrous. Hitting doesn't work that way. The Nats bashed Kendrick of the Phils one week and the next week, Kendrick shut them down. That is baseball. We see example after example of great teams losing four straight in the World Series. Were these teams lacking in pride? Many of them were defending champs. The 1954 Indians went 111-43 but lost in four straight to the Giants. The 1964 Yankees, defending champs, lost in four straight to the Cardinals. The 1966 Dodgers, defending champs, lost in four straight to the Orioles. The 1990 A's defending champs, lost in four straight to the Reds.None of those teams had pride? None of those teams had experience? None of those teams had good pitching and good hitting that suddenly went into hiatus? Pretty much all of those things were true. And those examples involve losing four straight. If you want to talk about great teams that lose series after winning a single game, we could go on and on.I understand that people want to talk about baseball using the terms and analysis from other sports but it simply doesn't work. With rare exceptions, this is a non-contact sport. While the notion of Babip might have been oversold with respect to pitchers, it seems pretty clear that it does apply to hitters and teams.William Keeler articulated this perfectly, over 100 years ago. The name of the game is to "hit 'em where they ain't." With two evenly matched teams, if one of them has balls dropping in and the other doesn't, then that is just the way it goes. You tip your hat and you wish them well. That is essentially what Johnson's attitude is and the players' as well.It's not like basketball where the coach can develop some new defensive scheme like the triangle two to unleash on the Cards, or switch to a 3-4 defense, or unleash a wishbone scheme as in football.Basically, Johnson can go out there and hand in his line-up card with the best players given the pitching match-ups, and that is it. Once again, during the season, the Nats often had a hot Strasburg or Gio or Zimmerman and even Det and Lannan, at times, who stopped losing skids.We don't seem to have that now, but that is hardly Johnson's fault, or the field players' faults. In fact, pitching has been in a decline the entire second half and that basically is true of the entire squad, except for Storen. It is the hitting that has been much better since July that has kept the Nats going.If someone is going to become angry with his team because they lose a short series, I guess that is his or her right. Such a person should probably complain about the vagaries of the weather and coin-flips also, though, just to be consistent. During the first 100 World Series in MLB baseball, 50% of the teams that won had the better record and 50% had a worse record but won anyway. That is pretty close to coin flip odds. I don't let coin flips upset me.

  108. Joe Seamhead - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    We got this.GYFNG!!!

  109. rabbit34 - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Feel Wood said in answer to Rabbit34……."There is no such thing as the BEST team in baseball, just as there is no such thing as the BEST runner in the world."Hey Feel Wood….maybe you can also explain that to Werth! Here is his quote so you can bloviate some more.. "I believe in this team, I believe in these guys," right fielder Jayson Werth said. "We've been here all year. Over a 162-game season, we were the best team in baseball. And I still feel that way."

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 56 44 --
ATLANTA 55 48 2.5
MIAMI 49 53 8.0
NEW YORK 49 54 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 45 58 12.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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