It was a very quiet Nationals clubhouse following today's 8-0 loss to the Cardinals. It might take a few hours to get past this one, given the way the Nats were dominated in their home park in the much-anticipated first playoff game in D.C. in 79 years.
Not only did the Nationals' pitchers fail to do much to contain a dangerous St. Louis offense, the Nats did nothing with the bats to help pick up the slack and overcome some rocky innings put up by Edwin Jackson, Craig Stammen, Christian Garcia and Ryan Mattheus.
The result was a loss that was ugly enough that a good chunk of fans who had skipped work or school to be at the game headed for the exits in the seventh inning.
"It doesn't matter how you lose 'em," said Jayson Werth, who was the first Nationals player waiting to take on the horde of reporters after the game. "The important thing is we've played good all year, we've been a really good team all year. We've got one game to play tomorrow, one game to win. Much past that, you really can't look at it any different way. Show up tomorrow ready to play. Ball's still in our court. We're at home. It is what it is."
The Nationals scored the fifth-most runs in the majors after the All-Star break, but they've put up just seven runs in their three postseason games and four runs over the last 18 innings. Their situational hitting has been just as poor; Washington has gone 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position, a batting average of .125 in those spots.
"Obviously, we didn't score any runs. It's going to be tough to score if you don't hit," Werth said. "But I believe in this team, I believe in these guys. We've been here all year. Over a 162-game season, we were the best team in baseball. I still feel that way."
Given how young the Nationals are as a team, is it possible that they were just a bit too overanxious to make something happen from an offensive standpoint?
"I think it could be," Adam LaRoche said. "You have to go back and look at individual at-bats - sometimes you get pitched up and sometimes you go out and help him and swing at pitches out of the zone. Probably a little bit. You know, when you're down a few runs, you want to drive some in. You get a little anxious then and try to take more than they give us. Later in the game, that was probably the case."
As Michael Morse pointed out, the Nats are getting guys on base. They've averaged nearly eight hits a game this series and are giving themselves chances to bring runs across. They're just not getting the job done.
That was the case today, as they went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, stranded 11 and missed prime opportunities to do some damage off Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter.
"We had him on the ropes a couple times," Werth said. "We were just one bloop away from a totally different ballgame. He's playoff-proven. He's been doing it his whole career. You've got to tip your cap to that, for sure. But I still felt like we had a chance to get him. And hopefully we'll get Kyle (Lohse) tomorrow."