It’s Game 5. There are no ifs, ands or buts. It’s all hands on deck. Throw all your stat sheets and conventional wisdom out the window. It’s your best versus mine. It’s win or go home. Do or die.
The Nationals and their loyal fan base are no strangers to this dire situation. We all know what’s at stake, having now been here in three of Nationals’ four playoff appearances. Win and advance to the first National League Championship Series in club history and the first league/conference final by a major D.C. sports team in 19 years. Lose and so begins another offseason full of disappointment and talk of another early playoff exit.
We can talk about the pitching matchups and batting numbers all we want, but I’ll leave that for the beat writers. To me, the story of this Game 5 is the history the Nationals could make tonight.
If you’re not aware - whether because you don’t care, you’re strictly a Nats fan and don’t concern yourself with the other teams in our nation’s capital or whatever reason - this town has had a long streak of disappointing playoff runs.
In 35 collective playoff appearances since the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI on Jan. 26, 1992, Washington’s four major sports teams (Nationals, Redskins, Capitals and Wizards) are collectively 1-34 in reaching the league/conference finals:
* Nationals: 0-3 (0-3 in games with chance to advance)
* Redskins: 0-6 (0-3)
* Capitals: 1-17 (1-7)
* Bullets/Wizards: 0-8 (0-1)
Can the Nationals put this city on their backs to break this streak? Will the bats come alive like they did in the eighth innings of Games 2 and 4? Will Gio Gonzalez give his team a solid start and a chance to win?
Follow along here all night long for the social media happenings and game updates throughout Game 5. I’ll be sure to check the comments section below and respond when I can. Also, feel free to tweet me, beep me if you wanna reach me at @Bobby_Blanco.
It feels like October on South Capitol Street, the Metro is staying open late and Nats Park should be rocking. Tonight seems as good a night as any to exorcise some demons. Let’s get after it.
Just started to put my shoes on before my pants. Nope not nervous at all. I’m fine-- F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) October 12, 2017
Update: The Nats faithful was ready to go from the start. From former National Michael Morse throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Washington Senator great Frank Howard yelling “Play ball!” via video message through the first inning, this crowd has been rocking.
Although the Cubs were able to take an early 1-0 lead and the Nats couldn’t cash in their own opportunity to get a run in the first frame, the sea of red is hanging in there and backing these Nats.
Thinking Gio has an angel with him tonight... #JoseFernandez-- F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) October 13, 2017
This. Place. Is. Juiced.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 13, 2017
There goes the no hitter! Bat died a hero-- F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) October 13, 2017
Game 5. pic.twitter.com/UF8xC7NwGu-- OLIVIA witherite (@Oliviawitherite) October 13, 2017
Update II: How’s that for loud?! The Nationals exploded for four runs in the bottom of the second to take a 4-1 lead. Daniel Murphy smacked a solo homer on the first pitch of the frame to knot the game at 1-1. Then after a bloop single by Anthony Rendon and bunting single by Matt Wieters (yes, you read that correctly), Michael A. Taylor picked up right where he left off in Game 4 with a three-run shot for the lead.
Needless to say, Nats Park lost its mind.
I mean, Daniel Murphy was bound to get to the Cubs, right?-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 13, 2017
THAT is what Daniel Murphy likes to call an airball. Crushed.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 13, 2017
Murph: SEE ... YOU ... LATER!-- Bob Carpenter (@scorebook_bob) October 13, 2017
Michael. A. F. Taylor.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 13, 2017
Bonkers-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 13, 2017
Michael A: “SEE ... YOU ... LATER!”-- Bob Carpenter (@scorebook_bob) October 13, 2017
MICHAEL A F*****G TATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!-- F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) October 13, 2017
Update III: That was a less-than-ideal fifth inning for the Nats. The crowd when from ecstatic to deadly silent over the course of the top half of the inning.
As most people expected, Max Scherzer entered this game out of the bullpen. The crowd went nuts.
After retiring Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Scherzer then gave up the lead in all sorts of craziness. The crowd went silent.
I’ll let me colleague Mark Zuckerman break down the scoring.
Max Scherzer is coming into this game. Nats Park is about to go nuts.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 13, 2017
Max Scherzer enters this game with a 1-run lead. He has 2 prior postseason relief appearances. He gave up a run in each.-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 13, 2017
Fans seem happy(?) that Max is in?-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 13, 2017
Gives up 2 (and the lead) here.-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 13, 2017
But had to be him in there. When they beat your best, what more can you do? https://t.co/TMwX5BNrzn
That inning went ...-- Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 13, 2017
2B, 2 runs
K-PB-E2, 1 run
HBP, 1 run
Seriously, have you ever?
Update IV: Well, it’s the top of the eighth and the Cubs lead 9-7. The back-and-forth scoring has provided great drama, but the Nats are running out of chances.
One really cool moment was Morse leading the crowd in “Take on Me” during the seventh-inning stretch, a fan favorite from back when he played in D.C.
Oh, it’s right here for the 7th-inning stretch. Michael Morse introduced it. That’s actually cool. https://t.co/rxH3l7hFMG-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 13, 2017
Now we’re getting “Take on Me” during the 7th inning stretch, with Mikey Mo on the microphone.-- Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 13, 2017
🎶 Take on me... pic.twitter.com/LMGgxp2ufw-- Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 13, 2017