Enthusiasm was high for hours before the 1:07 pm start between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals as fans awaited the first ever postseason game at Nationals Park. Enthusiasm quickly made way for reality, though, as the Nats were bludgeoned by the Cardinals in an 8-0 loss.
Fans at Nats Park are a notoriously late-arriving crowd, but that wasn’t the case today. Tens of thousands of the 45,017 fans that eventually came were here and waiting for any reason to explode. I even met a guy who grew up in Montreal cheering for the Expos. He’s been to every home franchise playoff game. Unfortunately, the loudest the stadium could get was for Frank Robinson’s ceremonial first pitch, the F-16 flyover before the game began, and when the Nationals left the bases load.
Edwin Jackson was obviously amped early in the game, and it caused him to give up four runs in the first two innings of the game. The latest Nats killer, Pete Kozma, hit a three-run home run in the second that put the game out of reach for the Nats recently lethargic offense.
The Nats continued struggling with runners in scoring position. They stranded 11 runners over all and six of them in scoring position. It was a frustrating display, and thousands of fans started leaving in the sixth inning. To me, there’s no excuse for that. As ugly as the game was at the time, it’s the first ever playoff home game for the Nats. For a city that’s waited 79 years for a postseason game, I expected better.
The Nationals now face an elimination game at home on Thursday, calling on Ross Detwiler to face Kyle Lohse to force a game five. Detwiler was on the mound for the Nats on September 20 when they clinched their postseason spot, but that was his last good start of the season.
In his presser before game three, Detwiler said he was using his 11 days off during the All-Star Break as his model to approach his game four start, since he’s had 10 days off. For reference, in his first game back from that extended break, Detwiler threw seven innings of five-hit shutout baseball. That’s clearly what the Nats are hoping to get from him tomorrow.
Tomorrow is another day and another game. The Nats came home looking at the home part of this series as just a three-game home series. If that’s the case, there were five times during the regular season that they lost the first game but came back to win the second two. If the Nats follow that model, they’ll walk onto the Championship Series. This thing is far from over, but the key to victory is going to be the offense. It has to show up.
- Jim Joyce, the first base umpire that blew the perfect game call for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, blew another call at first base today. Danny Espinosa was clearly safe on a bunt attempt in the second inning. It almost certainly wouldn’t have changed the outcome of today’s game, but if this isn’t the kind of call that supports calls for instant replay for major calls, I don’t know what is.