- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
Nationals’ season comes crashing down
Washington gives up four in 9th, loses 9-7 to Cardinals
In the end, there was nothing but silence to greet them.
The blue carpet meant to soak up champagne was still there, but the furniture that’d been moved out of the center of the clubhouse was put back. The plastic sheets hung to protect the contents of lockers from getting soaked were rolled up or torn off. The only sound was the slapping of hands on backs as they gave one another hugs, both conciliatory and goodbye.
The haste with which the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse went from celebratory to somber at the close of Game 5 of the National League Division Series was evident. The haste with which their season ended was more difficult to process.
They stood on the precipice. One out away. One strike away. One iota away from a ticket into the National League Championship Series.
They led the St. Louis Cardinals by six, then by five, then three. As Drew Storen took the mound in the ninth inning, their lead was two. When he descended it, the Nationals were three outs from the 9-7 loss they tried to absorb inside the bowels of the stadium as Friday turned to Saturday.
“Seven, eight months worth of hard work goes away in one inning like that,” said first baseman Adam LaRoche, his tone soft and his eyes searching. “I don’t know what to tell you. It’s frustrating. This is going to sting. It’s going to sting until next year.”
Fans, 45,966 of them, bundled in winter coats and hats flung red towels around above their heads and showered their team with cheers as the ninth inning began. The clock struck midnight on the scoreboard as Storen watched Carlos Beltran’s leadoff double bang off the right center field wall. He stood on third through two excruciating outs, and two excruciating walks.
The Cardinals boast perhaps one of the best lineups in baseball through their first six batters. But in a series in which the Nationals played little like the team they were over a 98-win season, it was St. Louis’ No. 7 and No. 8 hitters who did the most damage. It was Daniel Descalso who was 6-for-19 with two home runs and Pete Kozma who reached base nine times in 21 plate appearances. Friday night Descalso tied the game. Kozma won it.
Game 1 of the National League Championship Series will begin Sunday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Nationals won’t be a part of it.
“There’s always going to be a winner and a loser,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “Unfortunately, everyone can’t win and it’s always tough for the team that loses. But we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
There was nothing they could point to as the moment it all went wrong. Storen’s pitches were close, but not strikes. Their offense was big, but not enough.
“In this game, there’s nothing that’s an accident,” said shortstop Ian Desmond, Descalso’s hit just out of his diving reach. “There’s a plan for everything. This is the way I guess it was supposed to end up. … It happened for a reason. Learn from it. Let’s use it as a tool to get better.”
Washington, D.C.’s re-introduction to playoff baseball wasn’t easy. The gut-wrenching torture that comes with each pitch carrying so much weight took its toll on the region’s nerves the past few nights. But nothing came close to the heartbreak that the silent stadium emoted as they went from the brink of delirium to the depths of disdain.
The Nationals kept their park rocking until deep into the night on Thursday, Jayson Werth’s walk-off home run giving them at least one more day and the swagger to believe it would almost certainly be more. The Giants were a match-up they liked. A match-up they craved. If they could get there, they felt, they might just get all the way there.
The offense that had been maligned and missing for much of the series tried to send them there early. They put up six runs on Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright in the first 2 1/3 innings. Werth doubled. Bryce Harper tripled and homered. Zimmerman doubled and homered. Michael Morse homered.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.
Classical music and the performing arts: news and reviews you can use.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
White House pets gone wild!