By Michael Marzzacco
The Nationals had a chance to end a drought that has been around for 18 years. Since 1998, no team in Washington D.C. our nation’s capital hasn’t gotten past the conference semifinal round of any sport. A Washington baseball team hasn’t won a playoff series since 1924 when the Washington Senators beat the New York Giants at old Griffith Stadium. Last night’s latest heartbreak came on a diamond in Southeast, DC in front of over 43, 936 fans that wanted to see their beloved Nationals make the NLCS for the first time in team history but instead got the opposite. Now fans gotta wait and see if their Redskins or Capitals can get over the hump.
Dusty Baker has lost nine consecutive series clinching games in the postseason dating back to when he managed the Cubs in 2003.
The culprit and the dagger came in the seventh inning. Holding a 1-0 lead, their best pitcher Max Scherzer gave up a home run that tied the game. The Dodgers then scored three runs off the Nationals bullpen for a four run inning.
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead early on in the bottom of the second with a base hit by Danny Espisosa. Yes, that same Espinosa that was hitless until late in Game 4 with eight strikeouts. He hit it into right field to score Daniel Murphy to give the good guys the 1-0 lead.
Scherzer had a solid outing from the mound despite giving up the home run in the seventh inning. You could sense the drive in his eyes whether it was his blue or brown one. He had a no-hitter through four innings with four strikeouts.
Josh Reddick recorded the first hit for the Dodgers, a line drive single into right field. Los Angeles went on to load the bases with one out. Scherzer got out of it by striking out Andre Ethier and getting Chase Utley to ground out to first. At the time, it looked like it could have been the biggest out of the season.
The Nats had a chance for some much needed insurance which would have been nice and proved to be the difference later on. In the sixth inning with Werth on first, face of the franchise Ryan Zimmerman smacked a base hit down the left field line down to the corner. Third base coach Bob Henley told him to go ahead and go home. The throw from left fielder Andrew Toles came to catcher Cory Seager beat Werth at the plate by a mile.
Max Scherzer pitched a gem with seven strikeouts. He entered the seventh inning with 97 pitches. On his 98th, Joc Pederson took it to the visitor’s bullpen in left center field to tie the game at 1. Dusty Baker took Scherzer out of the game and went with Marc Rzepczynski from the bullpen. He surrendered a walk to Yasmani Grandal. Dusty then went with Blake Treinen to face Howie Kendrick. Kendrick singled into left field. Treinen struck out Charlie Culberson on a foul bunt before the skipper took him out for Sammy Solis. Solis gave a single up to “chooch (his nickname)”, Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz smacked it near third base and the ball went off the glove of Anthony Rendon into the outfield. Solis got the rookie Seager, who had a great series, to fly out. Justin Turner tripled into center field to bring home Kendrick and Ruiz, making it a 4-1 deficit taking the air completely out of the ballpark.
The hometown team rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning to bring life back to the ballpark. Espinosa led off with a walk. Chris Heisey followed with a home run into the left field.seats. It was a one run game! Clint Robinson singled into right field before the fans could take their seats. The Nats used young pitcher Joe Ross, who started Game 4 the other night, to pinch run. While Trea Turner flew out, Bryce Harper singled to left center and Ross advanced to third. Unfortunately, Werth struck out swinging. Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen intentionally walked Murphy and struck out Rendon to kill the rally.
The fans booed and chanted “Metro sucks!” when the videoboard announced the last train was leaving the Navy Yard station. Most of the fans stayed till the final out with very few leaving early to catch the subway.
The Dodgers went with Clayton Kershaw to close out the game recording the final two outs.With runners on first and second he got Murphy to pop up to second baseman Charlie Culberson on the infield fly rule. Wilmer Difo came in, pinch hitting for Mark Melancon.
Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light. And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout. But there was no joy in DC, Wilmer Difo struck out.