Skip to content

Instant analysis: Cardinals 4, Nats 3

Sep 23, 2013, 11:01 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images USA Today Sports Images

Game in a nutshell: The Nationals arrived in St. Louis knowing they could face elimination if results played out a certain way here, in Cincinnati and in Chicago. All three games went down to the wire, but when the Pirates and Reds each won in dramatic fashion, the Nats knew they had to win to keep their season alive. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first but then went silent against Adam Wainwright. Tanner Roark tried to hold the lead, but the rookie struggled with St. Louis’ grind-it-out lineup and wound up giving up four runs to leave himself in line for his first career loss. The Nationals couldn’t mount one final rally against the St. Louis bullpen, and so a season that began with so much promise officially ended in disappointment. There will be no postseason for the Nationals in 2013, only a long winter to contemplate what exactly went wrong.

Hitting lowlight: The Nats looked like they were going to get to Wainwright early when Jayson Werth tagged a two-run homer in the top of the first. But the veteran right-hander has a track record for first-inning struggles and then righting his ship, and he did it again tonight. The Nats managed only three baserunners from the second through the seventh innings. They finally knocked Wainwright out in the eighth and pushed across one more run, but Werth couldn’t drive the tying run home from second with two outs in the eighth.

Pitching lowlight: Though he has impressed far beyond what anyone expected, Roark does remain a rookie who is still learning how to get big-league hitters out. And he faced a particularly tough lineup tonight in the Cardinals, finding that out the hard way. Roark didn’t surrender many hard-hit balls, but he did give up nine hits over five innings, several of them to the opposite field. His biggest mistake was a 3-1 fastball to Carlos Beltran, who hammered it to right field for a two-run homer. Thus, Roark suffered his first big-league loss in what was probably his final start of the season. Davey Johnson indicated he’s likely to start Gio Gonzalez in Sunday’s finale at Arizona.

Key stat: The Nationals haven’t beaten the Cardinals since Game 4 of last year’s NLDS.

Up next: The series continues at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday when lefty Gio Gonzalez faces right-hander Michael Wacha.

  1. naterialguy - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    love you Nats. Helluva try down the stretch.

  2. David Proctor - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    They fought to the end. With how poorly they played for much of the year, it’s a minor miracle that it took until the final week of the season for us to be eliminated. It’s still disappointing. But the team had major flaws. Haren was awful. The bench was awful. The bullpen was inconsistent at best. Zimmerman was hurt. Span had to adjust to a new league. It was a lot to overcome.

    The core of the team is as good as any, but the supporting cast is not. The good news is that those things aren’t the most difficult to fix. Rizzo’s biggest decision will be who the manager is next year.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      Well said.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:08 PM

    Kind of a microcosm of the season, at least on the offensive side. A few early runs, but then the bats disappeared. I know they were facing a good pitcher, but when he appeared vulnerable the Nats couldn’t deliver. Too many games were lost when the Nats couldn’t score the league average runs/game.

  4. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Not drowning sorrows … just holding them under for a bit.

  5. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    Four words summarize
    The Nats on this date
    And those four words:
    “Too little, too late”

  6. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Night after night in April
    Night after night in May
    We did nothing with RISP
    We did nothing to show we could play

    We lost, and our team was contented
    But we feigned that our players were surly
    But they showed that losing
    Was okay–by their choosing
    When they said o’er and o’er, “It’s early.”

  7. depotmaster - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Thank you, Washington Nationals, for a great season, filled with special memories and proud moments. Glad to have quality baseball in Washington, and looking forward to next year with a new manager (Cal Ripken, anyone?) and a fresh start!

    Thank you, Davey Johnson, for teaching young guys how to win.

    Thank you, Dan Haren, for having a year where your arm may have let up but your heart never did.

    Thank you, Ian Desmond, for always being the gracious, fan friendly person you are, and showing people that consistent hard work, humility and effort pay off.

    I could go on and on, and may at a later date, but it’s not like last year was for me where I wandered around aimlessly when they lost Game 5. Now it’s time to see if we can help return the favor to St Louis and start their winter vacation early.

  8. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    June brought new hope
    Did the Nats Deliver?
    Nope

    July, more the same
    No scoring, no winning
    And then we vowed the All Star break
    Would be a new beginning

    This signaled the Nats’ most important quality
    Not the homer, the shutout, the walk
    Not the double, the brawl or the balk
    The 2012 Nats most-delivered quantity?
    Just talk, and more talk,and more talk

    • naterialguy - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      alright do we really need bad poetry scraping together your negative thoughts. If you put the worst into writing that the Nats put into their profession you might be publishable.

  9. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    And after the All Star break
    When we’d vowed to recapture the ‘mo
    Our words collided with our deeds
    And we lost six in a row

    Then came a homestand in August
    Atlanta: Our foes in Nats’ yore
    We vowed (with our words) we would best them
    Sadly, our words couldn’t score

    Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night
    Loss after loss after loss
    The Braves crushed the lifeless Nationals
    Who learned “Twas still early” no more

  10. sjm308 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Again, not posting or reading as much lately. I was struck tonight by how many players seemed reluctant to go into the clubhouse after this game. The camera did not stay on them for long but I was interested in Werth, Desmond, Span and Harper just sort of watching the Cards as they celebrated their win, and not looking real happy. Others were filing into the clubhouse but many just sat and were not in any hurry. It was telling to me and maybe I read too much into it but I am sure there was and will be disappointment in how this season played out.

    It will be interesting to me to see how Davey handles his lineup now. I am sure Harper will want to play every game and probably Desmond as well. I would use these last few games to give Corey Brown and Tyler Moore more at bats and be quick to insert some of the other guys that were brought up as well. I don’t need to see Tyler Clippard much this last week, he has proven what he is capable of. Same with Storen and Soriano. I am not saying that they lay down in these games but I am not concerned whether they win 85 or 89 games. Bottom line is our season is over in 5 games.

  11. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    And when it truly was over
    When winning was meanlingless, boring
    The DC Nine, in their talkative prime
    Finally started scoring

    What was sparkplug for this surge?
    When suddenly all our bats battered?
    We found our stroke–and this is no joke
    When the outcome no longer mattered.

  12. David Proctor - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 3m
    Davey had tears in his eyes when discussing #Nats being eliminated. “I love those guys.”

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 23s
    Bryce Harper sat in full uniform staring into his locker for a half an hour after the game ended. Said he wasn’t ready for the season to end

  13. breakbad1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Sorry, Nats, no sentiment here:
    You had the talent but not the heart
    You had the blather but not the action
    You deluded yourselves (but not me)
    With all the “it’s early” distraction

    I see the banners at Nats Park
    A team that won the World Series in 1924
    Teams that lost the Series in ’25 and ’33
    And I think they were great–to begin
    And then I realize
    The reason you will be playing golf on October 1st:
    You lacked the will to win.

    • David Proctor - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:01 AM

      That’s garbage, sorry.

  14. breakbad1 - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    Poetry ended. People–look at the Bosox fans after last year.

    After the Red Sox blew the 2012 season the fans could have written all kinds of sentimental drivel–already evident here–about how hard their team tried that season, and how lucky Boston was to have a baseball team.

    Instead, they DEMANDED the team make the changes necessary to win. Have you checked Boston’s place in the AL East standings in 2013?

    Nats Fans: Choose to demand a winner now. Or else you will be saddled with happy losers, and teams that only gave it the best they had for the last 6 weeks of the season, forever.

    There is NO reason Washingtonians should be happy with a team that fails to make the playoffs.

    Remember: You will get what you tolerate.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      Correlation is not causation.

      I don’t think the people of Boston only started to “DEMAND” changes recently, as opposed to, say, sometime during the Harding administration. Or the people in Philly only started to care about winning 10 years ago.

      Oh, and this.

  15. breakbad1 - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:44 AM

    Well, it’s 12:20 AM, now, I’ve got to be out the door at 630 a.m., and no one has replied to my last post.

    I guess it’s a reflection of the sentiment of how thankful we are in Washington to have a great group of guys who didn’t make the playoffs. In fact, we are SO thankful to have a team, we don’t care how that team performs.

    Mark: I couldn’t care less that Davey held back tears. I couldn’t care LESS if Harper stayed in uniform 45 minutes after the game ended, or 45 DAYS after it ended.

    Proctor: “They fought to the end. With how poorly they played for much of the year, it’s a minor miracle that it took until the final week of the season for us to be eliminated.” This is nonsense. We had the tools to make the playoffs and blew it outright.

    Depotmaster. Enough with the aw shucks we’re lucky to have a team already. Washington is the capital of the United States of America! Geez, enough of endless “I’m happy not to make the playoffs…” drivel…or in your words, “Thank you, Washington Nationals, for a great season, filled with special memories and proud moments. Glad to have quality baseball in Washington…” then thank you to many, many others. Please, Depotmaster, find me ONE Bosox fan after their 2012 debacle, writing “Glad to have quality baseball in Boston…” Please get rid of the battered spouse/battered Washington Baseball Fan Syndrome!

    But my favorite post goes to sjm308: “Again, not posting or reading as much lately. I was struck tonight by how many players seemed reluctant to go into the clubhouse after this game. The camera did not stay on them for long but I was interested in Werth, Desmond, Span and Harper just sort of watching the Cards as they celebrated their win, and not looking real happy.”

    Hmmm….sjm308…didn’t you write the EXACT same words after the Cardinals crushed our hopes Game 5 last year? So–was it really novel watching Werth, Desmond, and Harper “just sort of watching the Cards as they celebrated their win, and not looking real happy” Will you write the same amazed, original words when they do the same thing to us in 2014? — And 2015? Are you, kinda, maybe, noticing a PATTERN here?

    So, as I write, Nats Nation has gone to sleep, contentedly thanking their heroes for a sound conclusion to the regular season, content with an empty Nats Park in October–as long as they are free to write tributes about how their players and coaches cried or lingered on the field or watched playoff teams celebrate.

    Nats Fans: We have the talent. We are in a window to win, big, over the period of a few years. One of these years our team just wizzed away. Do NOT accept mediocrity in the future, or you WILL get it.

    • AlexandriaNatFan - Sep 24, 2013 at 1:27 AM

      Who is this guy? Has he ever posted this year…at all? I’m fairly new to NI and haven’t posted yet (mostly because they never seem to “take”), but have enjoyed reading most of your all’s posts. This guy, however…wow, just sad when someone sits around waiting for people to reply to him and then sends himself a reply…a long, sad, self-justifying reply. Bottom line is cities will respond to their teams with their character and in their own way. BoSox fans responded the way Bostonians do and would. Nats fans will respond the way Washingtonians do and would. Leave each to their own and if you are that unhappy with the Nats’ play, then walk outside, pick up a bat and glove and knock on Werth’s door to tell him you’re there to give him a batting lesson. Let us know how that works out for you. Or just move to Boston. It’s a great town.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2013 at 8:20 AM

        Speaking only for myself, I started scrolling after the second verse of doggerel.

        On another note, didn’t see the game (I record later starts rather than watching them in real time) but did check the results before breakfast this a.m. I made a similar remark to the one below to my husband at breakfast. Right before I said I’d like to see the Nats to beat the Cardinals regardless of the impact (or not) on standings, just because. I have a feeling that at least some of the team has the same inclination. Go, Nats. Love ya!

        David Proctor – Sep 23, 2013 at 11:06 PM

        They fought to the end. With how poorly they played for much of the year, it’s a minor miracle that it took until the final week of the season for us to be eliminated.

  16. secretwasianman - Sep 24, 2013 at 3:26 AM

    This team could never beat a good team this year. Horrible job by Davey until mid August. Guys like Roark made it respectable.

  17. Chase - Sep 24, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    I have read this post for years. In fact, I was a orginal payor to help Mark get this blog started. I have never posted because like Mr. Ed , I had nothing to say.
    So here is my take on the season.
    Baseball unlike football is a marathon
    To win takes talent above all. In football you can win games through rah rah and a qb hotstreak, see George Allen etc,
    but in baseball you better have the best talent and the Nats simply did not. The middle relief was awful, thats on Rizzo,
    And the injuries either took to long to heal aka. Ramos, Harper ,Werth or Davey played them injured to long aka a gutsy Haren or a stupidly gutsy Espinosa which is on Davey.
    Bottom line the folks that played had enough guts not enough talent until they got healthy but the health happened too late.
    By the way I am a big fan of Nats Lady, Joe Seamhead and others here. Love to read anyone whose comments are respectful and thought out .
    if they are neither ,they best be funny or I move on.
    Chase out.
    P.s.
    bet we are in the playoffs next year!!

  18. dgourds - Sep 24, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    This loss by Roark had less to do with the Cardinal lineup than his inabilty to command his curveball last night. This was really the first weakness I’ve seen in his game. It happens to everyone. This kid is great. I wish Davey would let him start the last game instead of Gio so he can end on a strong note. I believe in Roark! He’ll be a big part of the 2014 WS champion Nats!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 48 --
ATLANTA 58 51 1.5
MIAMI 53 55 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.0
PHILADELPHIA 48 61 11.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 12:35 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.

*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.

Follow us on Twitter