One of the moments from the postgame scene after Friday’s loss that I won’t forget for quite a while was catcher Kurt Suzuki, who had just finished talking to a group of reporters, slowly walking away from his locker.
Suzuki seemed unsure of where to go or what exactly to do. He turned to infielder Chad Tracy and quietly said what everyone in the Nationals’ clubhouse was probably thinking.
“I’m not ready to be done playing,” Suzuki said.
The Nats will have a while to think about their Game 5 loss to the Cardinals. The pit in their stomachs will stay there for a few weeks, and possibly months, as they relive the sequence of their blown lead, wondering what they could have done differently to secure a different result.
“This one’s going to sting for a little bit,” veteran infielder Mark DeRosa said.
Drew Storen will likely have the toughest time overcoming the loss, given the memories he’ll have burned into his brain from the four-run ninth inning put up by the Cardinals. But each guy in the Nationals’ clubhouse will need to get past what happened as they move on into the offseason.
We assume that players want to completely forget the rough times, tossing the negative experiences out of their heads as they try to move on. But DeRosa, a guy who has experienced both the highs and lows of postseason baseball, says that’s not how the Nats should approach this. He feels it’s important for the Nats’ players to keep that feeling in the back of their minds, not only because it will drive them to get better, but also because it’ll make winning in the postseason that much sweeter in the future.
“It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, no doubt,” DeRosa said. “That’s the thing. They need to remember this feeling for when you’re in this situation again.
“It’s not easy to win the whole thing. And when you do, that’s why you see the players celebrate the way they celebrate, because a lot of things have to go your way.”
The Nats feel they’ll be back in this spot again. Bryce Harper said after Friday’s game that he believes he’ll be back 20 more times.
If the Nats do return, they’ll play those games with an idea of what the losing end feels like. And that could help drive them.
“I’m pretty confident that they’re going to be doing this for a long time,” Adam LaRoche said. “Got young guys with a year’s experience. Got some postseason experience, got to play on a huge stage here. And that’ll carry over. It’ll carry over for years to come. And these guys, the more experience they get, the easier it gets, the more comfortable you get in that situation.”
So they hope.