Desmond can't hide disappointment after difficult day

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond couldn't hide the disappointment. Losing the first game of the best-of-five National League Division Series was one thing, but twice failing to come through with runners in scoring position and striking out on both occasions obviously left a bad taste in his mouth.

"We were in it the whole way," he said after the Nats' 3-2 loss in Game 1 of the NLDS at Nationals Park. "We battled back. It just wasn't enough today."

The Nationals may have rebounded from a 3-0 deficit, but Desmond clearly struggled on an afternoon when he went 0-for-4 and left five men on base.

Ian-desmond-bat-red.pngHe came up with two outs in the sixth inning and the bases full, after a pinch-ht double by Nate Schierholtz and after Jayson Werth had drawn a walk from Giants starter Jake Peavy and Adam LaRoche had coaxed a free pass from reliever Javier Lopez. The Nats trailed 2-0 at the time. Peavy had no-hit them until Bryce Harper's leadoff infield single an inning earlier.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy called for hard-throwing rookie righty Hunter Strickland, who had thrown all of seven innings since his Sept. 1 call-up, his first action in the majors. If Desmond had any veteran edge in the head-to-head matchup, it didn't show.

Strickland needed only four fastballs to extricate himself from the jam and preserve the 2-0 lead, and the 98 mph fastball he threw up in the zone on a 1-0 offering may have been the best chance Desmond had at connecting, since it was the rookie's slowest pitch. Desmond took a 99 mph fastball on the outside corner for a strike and then swung and missed at 100 mph gas on the inside corner.

"I was trying to get something out and over and wasn't able to get it done," Desmond said.

Asked if the rookie's velocity gave him the upper hand in their first meeting, Desmond said, "A hundred's a hundred. I don't think it has anything to do with necessarily velocity. I didn't put my best foot forward."

Desmond got an opportunity to redeem himself in the eighth against righty Sergio Romo, against whom he gone 2-for-5 with an RBI in seven plate appearances. This time, there were runners on first and second with one out, courtesy of singles by Anthony Rendon and LaRoche.

But a similar situation yielded the same result. Desmond took a sinker for a called first strike, then flailed badly at a pair of sliders breaking away from him for a strikeout. Harper then hit into an inning-ending fielder's choice.

"I had some tough at-bats against (Romo) in the past," Desmond said. "He threw a fastball away and followed that with two drop-down sliders outside."

Desmond at least got wood on Peavy, grounding out to open the second and flying to right to end the fourth. Like most of the Nationals, he said the veteran right-hander did a good job of mixing things up until he ran into trouble in the sixth. Peavy went 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits, walking three and fanning three.

"(Peavy) was hitting his spots, using all his pitches effectively, changing speeds," Desmond said. "He had a good cutter going that kind of went to when he got in trouble. When he was ahead, he was able to do what he wanted to do."

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