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Crushing loss leaves Nats in bigger hole

Sep 3, 2013, 12:29 AM EDT

Associated Press Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — If and when the Nationals officially are eliminated from the playoff race later this month — and “when” is looking more and more likely than “if” at the moment — they may be tempted to harken back to their toughest losses of the season, the ones that they just knew would come back to haunt them at season’s end.

When that happens, the Nationals almost certainly will recall Monday night’s 3-2 loss to the Phillies, a game that was there for the taking and then slipped away in demoralizing fashion.

“It’s a stab in the heart,” manager Davey Johnson said. “We’ve got to win these games.”

The Nationals took the field at Citizens Bank Park knowing they needed to win their series opener against Philadelphia in order to keep pace with the Reds, victorious earlier in the day. And they put themselves in position to do it, scratching out the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth and then handing the ball to their most-trusted reliever.

But Tyler Clippard, who had been scored upon in only 10 of his previous 61 appearances this season, allowed the tying and eventual winning runs to score during a two-out rally that left the Nationals dazed and now staring at a 7 1/2-game deficit for the NL’s final Wild Card berth with only 25 to play.

At 69-68, they would need to go 21-4 to reach 90 wins.

“It’s never easy, man,” Clippard said. “You could go 40 scoreless and give it up one night, it’s never easy. Losing sucks.”

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  1. Sonny G 10 - Sep 3, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    This just isn’t our year.

  2. Nattydread - Sep 3, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    Hoping for the best, fearing for the worst. The 2013 Nats are the 2013 Nats. What to do?

  3. David Proctor - Sep 3, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    Reposting for visibility: Ramos strike zone last night. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BTNP-RUCMAE9KfN.png

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      Down right pathetic. Umpire needs to get a new job to miss that many. Changed the game.

    • Section 222 - Sep 3, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      That’s just shocking. Thanks for reposting. Paging Joe Torre.

      • Steady Eddie - Sep 3, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        Those blown calls — on both sides of the plate — are appalling but not very surprising.

        Torre’s shop seems to be under the same implicit policy from Selig that’s driving the stalemate on MASN TV rights for which Selig is personally responsible. Ever since the 2011 signings went way over slot to the extent that MLB changed all the draft pay rules in response in 2012, MLB as an organization has given the short end of the stick to the Nats at every opportunity (same way the umps seem to have it in for Harper).

        In these cases, it all originates with Selig. He’s the boss, and the Nats will pay the price for crossing him. That’s not paranoia, just realism. Or as Emerson once wrote, “sometimes the evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

        How long has that trout been sitting there rotting, closing in on a couple of years now?

  4. snopes1 - Sep 3, 2013 at 2:34 AM

    As Davey said, it’s like a stab to the heart.

  5. veejh - Sep 3, 2013 at 4:53 AM

    You know it’s not our year when our most reliable reliever gives up 2 runs to blow the game in the 8th when we’re clinging to WC hope. Nuff said.

  6. David Proctor - Sep 3, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    Wow, I just heard that last night was the first blown save of the entire year for Clippard. Meaning he never gave up a run that tied or put the other team ahead. Can’t fault him for being imperfect one time. Just a bad time for it.

    • NatsLady - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      Actually, he did. He came into tie games twice (vs Atlanta) and gave up a run. That’s how he got the other two losses on his record.

      • David Proctor - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        Oh my bad. But since the game was tied, he didn’t get the blown save. That explains it. So less impresive, but still pretty impressive.

      • NatsLady - Sep 3, 2013 at 10:17 AM

        Clip is very impressive. Year after year. That doesn’t mean he’s perfect. I don’t know why he didn’t go after that little center-fielder, who is not a great hitter. If I had to guess, I’d guess he got a little overconfident with two out and decided this was a moment to “work on stuff.” Then he got in trouble, couldn’t find his release point (which, as you can see, happens to the best–it happened to Stras for a while. Humid night, slippery ball). Davey wasn’t expecting it, didn’t have anyone warming–why should he? There goes another game.

  7. natsguy - Sep 3, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    I don’t know why you guys aregetting so bummed out. The fork has been in this team for a very long time. Just take off the RC glasses and see things in the real light. Start looking at how to fix the mess for 2015. Next year will also be fairly difficult to digest

    • adcwonk - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      We see things in a real light. The real light it this: the odds before the latest losses were slim but not zero. Teams have qualified from greater deficits.

      Just because the odds are slim doesn’t mean there’s no reason to be bummed.

      Unless one isn’t a real fan.

      • NatsLady - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        Absolutely. Stranger things have happened. To me, the great enjoyment of sports is actually, y’know, playing the games–seeing the unexpected, seeing the dog lying in the road pick itself up and run. I understand declaring it was over in July or APRIL (April???????) is a form of emotional self-protection. OK, then. Go with the odds. Some of us are still going with our boys.

      • natsguy - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        The stuff about not being a real fan and needing an emotional crutch is very insulting. They have been playing at 4 games below .500 since game 9 and you guys are just catching on. Hmm!!! I think some others might need some emotional crutches. I maybe the only one who realizes its just a damn game.

    • Section 222 - Sep 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      wonk, the odds still aren’t zero, just a little closer to zero than they were before last night’s loss. If you’re saying that to be a real fan you have to be bummed when the elimination number moves from one to zero, then I strongly disagree. Last night was no more of a crushing loss from the point of view of the season’s ultimate outcome than the Zim brain freeze loss on Friday night or the the Zim brain freeze loss to the Royals last Sunday.

      Some real fans will keep hoping until the odds are actually zero that the Nats will reel off a 15 or 20-game winning streak and make the playoffs. That’s no less likely today than it was yesterday or the day before that. Other real fans understand and accept what this team is this year and gave up hoping for playoffs sometime during the last month, or maybe even before that. We still love the team and want it to do well for the rest of the season, we’re just not living and dying on every night’s result.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM

        Agreed on being bummed or not being bummed as a questionable measure of “real fandom.” Heck, if folks didn’t still care about the team, why would they be reading and commenting here at this point? One can be disappointed and feel hopeless and still be a fan, just as one can hold out hope until the end, however unrealistic that may be. Eh, you never know. Like that kid said in “Angels in the Outfield,” it *could* happen, even if it is a really, really long shot. Me, I still seem to have a teensy ember of hope in my heart (which winning streaks fan and losing streaks stifle).

  8. David Proctor - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Interesting piece by Ladson. Randy Knorr came out and said he wants the manager job next year. Honestly, I was for it at one point, but the more I see him, the less I like him as a candidate. He needs to learn to shut up. He should have handled both the Soriano and Harper things privately. It’s created far more drama than needed, especially with Harper.

    • NatsLady - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      The whole Harper thing has not been handled well, and I feel for the Kid. All this “taking treatment” needs to be recorded by the training staff, documented and reported–of course, that assumes Davey would pay attention to written reports. Werth knows Harper is hurt, but what is he supposed to do, be a snitch and get Rizzo on the horn?

      Also feel for Ramos. He came up to bat absolutely exhausted. You could see it. Then he gave a little shake and tried the best he could. I understand Davey is trying to win every game, and I’m for that. But last night he could have played Solano or even Leon. Stras is the one pitcher who basically doesn’t care who is receiving, he does his own thing.

      • David Proctor - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        Everyone knows Harper is hurt. Even Davey noticed Bryce’s limp (pretty hard not to notice). But if Harper insists he’s okay to play, it’s hard to take him out of the lineup–especially with only 25 games left. The question is whether he’s hurt or injured. You can play if you’re hurt, you shouldn’t play through injury. There’s a distinction there. I think most guys are hurt at this point in the year.

        Only Bryce knows how bad it is–I just hope he’s not pushing himself too hard.

  9. David Proctor - Sep 3, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    I don’t know if you saw Boswell’s piece on Harper. Davey sat down with Harper and had a chat with him. Not necessarily about the hustling, but that was part of it. It was more about tuning out all of the outside influences, something that Werth has not-so-subtly implied he wants to see Harper do.

    “On Sunday afternoon, several hours before the Washington Nationals’ nationally televised game with the Mets, Manager Davey Johnson called Bryce Harper into his office for one of his rare office chats. Johnson is a teaser and teacher, not a preacher. But sometimes he boils down 50 years in the game to a few words.

    “Are you having fun?

    “You can’t let other people control how you feel. Criticism, advice, too much of it is worse than none at all. It’s not one thing. It’s a million things, and it all takes your focus off the game,” said Johnson, 70 to Bryce’s 20. “Don’t let anything interfere with your love of the game.”

    Whether managing Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Cal Ripken or playing with Hank Aaron, Johnson has stood at arm’s length from those who never lost their focus on their own talent or their passion for the sport. As he retires this year, that dual goal is all he wishes for Harper. But Davey worries. Harper, in a generation of hype-cubed social-media-addled infant stars, has all the potential in the world but all the distractions, too. And Harper generates some of those distractions himself, often for little reason.

    Link to the full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/nationals-bryce-harper-still-on-path-to-be-a-superstar-despite-his-youthful-indiscretions/2013/09/01/6a3f2c82-135a-11e3-880b-7503237cc69d_story.html

  10. nats106 - Sep 3, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    I have not thrown in my red natitude towel from last year’s playoff games.

    Although I’m getting close. The need was to make up ground this week, not lose it.

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