It always seems to be the same old story: The Washington Nationals cruise to the playoffs; they under-perform; and then get bounced from the playoffs in the first round. This season looks to be no different. They won the National League East in 2012, 2014, 2016, and this past season, yet have no postseason series wins to show for it. The window in D.C is closing, and being down 2-1 to the defending champions in a best of 5 series does not inspire much confidence for me. Lady Luck has not shined on the Nationals the past few years. In a great pitched game 3 of the ALDS by both the Cubs and Nats, what got the Cubs on the board? That’s right; a bloop single by Anthony Rizzo into center field. Nothing hard hit. Something that is impossible to defend. It became the difference between the Nats being up 2-1 and being down 2-1.
It seems like the Nationals have always been close to moving on to the NLCS, but everything they do always seems to be either the wrong move or straight bad luck. It doesn’t matter who is managing this ball club or what players they add to this extremely talented core, nothing they do can get them over the hump. Look at the scores of their losses from the last 3 postseasons: 3-2, 2-1, 3-2, 4-3, 6-5, 4-3, 3-0, and 2-1. It’s just bad luck. When the Nats get the lead, they can’t hold on. When they are down, they can’t seem to get that big hit they need. One score change could have sent them to the NLCS in both the 2012 and 2016 seasons.
Don’t believe me about the bad luck? Consider the fact that not only have the Nationals lost two close games this series, but their starters took no-hit bids into the sixth inning in both losses. This, coming from the team that played a 17 inning game to the Giants and lost 2-1 at home in the rain. The offense has been horrible in this year’s playoffs. The 2017 Nationals have the 5th worst OPS (minimum of 100 PAs) in history. Even when their pitching has dominated, they can’t back up their pitchers with run support. They have been striking out at an alarming rate. They have not been making hard contact with the ball, making easy work for the opposing team’s defense.
Lady Luck has never shined on Washington.
Now, I don’t know what Game 4 will bring us. The rainout on Tuesday saved the Nationals in terms of slowing down the momentum the Cubs have been building in this series. It would have saved the Nationals from running out Tanner Roark in an elimination game and instead allowed them to turn to Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg, however, is “under the weather” according to Dusty Baker…in an elimination game. Whenever the Nationals get a break, they never take advantage of the situation. They could swing the momentum back into their favor and return home to D.C. tied 2-2 and have their home crowd in front of them in support. They need to come up clutch in game 4. For once, they need to make a comeback instead of choking the series away. The postseason curse will continue for Washington if they can’t turn things around in this series.
Will the defending champs be heading back to a rematch of last year’s NLCS or will the Nationals find a way to send this series back to Washington.? Nationals fans, wear your lucky underwear, get out your rabbits foot, find yourselves a four-leaf clover. Good luck: you’re going to need it.