Nats now viewing NLDS as "a chance to do something special"

SAN FRANCISCO - The flight from D.C. to San Francisco wasn't as long as that ballgame was last night.

After a 6:23 marathon in Game 2, which became the longest game time-wise in Major League Baseball postseason history, the Nationals find themselves in a tough spot, with their backs against the wall.

HarperDugoutDejected.jpgThey've now dropped the first two of a best-of-five series, and will need to take the next two here in San Francisco followed by a decisive Game 5 in D.C. in order to advance.

A tall order, for sure. The Giants are a good club, with loads of postseason experience and success. They've now won 10 straight postseason games, and are 24-8 in their last 32 playoff contests. And San Francisco will send Madison Bumgarner, the same left-hander who pitched a complete-game shutout in the must-win wild card game on Wednesday, to the mound in Game 3.

But it's not like the Nats have been outplayed all that badly in these first two games of the NLDS. It's not like they haven't been able to hang with the Giants.

Washington just hasn't gotten the timely hitting that we've seen from this team much of the last few months, while the Giants have been able to deliver the big hit at the big times.

"We lost two games by a combined two runs," reliever Craig Stammen said matter-of-factly. "One game went 18 innings. So we're pretty even. Get a couple breaks while we're there in San Francisco (and) I think we'll be just fine."

The Nationals have beaten the Giants three times in a row as recently as this June, when they strode into AT&T Park to face the then-hottest team in the majors. The Giants were 43-21 at that point, and had a whopping 10-game lead in their division, just 64 games into the season.

Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark picked up three straight victories, the Nats pushed across 17 runs in those three games, and they earned a big series win on the road.

That was just the regular season, of course. And these teams are both very different now than they were back in June. But it's not like beating the Giants three in a row is impossible.

Will it be easy? Nope, for sure not. But the Nats come into San Francisco knowing that if they can return to the type of play that they got used to over the last couple months, they could pull off something big.

"It gives us a chance to do something special," reliever Tyler Clippard said. "That's kinda how we have to look at it. Obviously, this is a tough one tonight. We're down 0-2 against a good club. But this is what the postseason's all about. We get a chance to go to their house, take two from them, come back here and do something special. And I think we're very capable of doing that.

"Obviously, one game at a time, but that's our opportunity, to do that."

Every game now is the Nationals' season. They can't look at the big picture and try and win the series Monday night. It starts with one victory, and then see how things fall from there.

"I guess we've gotta go do a must-win," left fielder Bryce Harper said, "and try to make some history."

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