Oct 13, 2012, 6:00 PM EST
Associated Press photo
Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson will face criticism all winter after the Game 5 loss.
As the throbbing pain of a punch to the gut begins to ease and turn into a mere, lingering black-and-blue mark, the outcome of Game 5 of the National League Division Series begins to take a backseat to the decisions that set it up to happen.
In the immediate wake of their 9-7 loss to the Cardinals, the Nationals and their fans were too consumed with emotion to think rationally about what had just transpired. But with sunrise and a new day comes more perspective and an opportunity to revisit the path that led everything to this soul-crushing juncture.
Here, then, is a look back at some of the toughest decisions Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson and others made leading up to and during the NLDS…
1. THE STRASBURG SHUTDOWN
It was inevitable: The only way the Nationals could have avoided subjecting themselves to criticism from around the world about their decision to shut down a healthy Stephen Strasburg in early-September was to win the World Series. (And even then, some would have decried Rizzo for denying the right-hander the opportunity toRead more »
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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