Jul 20, 2013, 4:36 AM EDT
They took four days off to catch their collective breath, take their minds off baseball and let their bodies heal. And when they took the field Friday on a sweltering night in the District, the Nationals wanted to believe things would be different, that they would start producing clutch hits and get big outs when they needed them and win tight ballgames.
Three sweaty hours later, they trudged off that field after a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers, feeling like they had just played a carbon-copy ballgame that resembled so many that came over the season’s first 3 1/2 months.
“Everybody’s here to watch us score runs and win baseball games, and there’s no excuse to it,” Chad Tracy said. “We just can’t get the rhythm. We had opportunities tonight against quality pitching. We just didn’t get it done.”
Tracy could have uttered those lines after the vast majority of the Nationals’ 48 losses this season. This game could have been played on April 13 or May 12 or June 14 or July 19. Ignore the calendar, and you couldn’t differentiate this one from any other.
Stephen Strasburg pitched well and deserved the win but was saddled with no decision. The Nationals lineup squandered golden opportunities against a laboring opponent. And a tie ballgame late turned on one big swing against a member of the Nats bullpen.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
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.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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