WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Despicable. Baffling. There's 200-plus words to describe how flat the Washington Nationals looked during their deflating first-ever home playoff game, an 8-0 loss.
I'll lump sum Wednesday's effort into three separate categories. But essentially, not one thing has gone right for the Nats since their slippery game one victory on Sunday.
1) Having the best record in baseball doesn't matter as much as being hot in September
It's not a scientific method, but right now it's proving suit.
St.Louis overcame a lackluster middle of the season and snuck into theplayoffs...both in 2011 and now 2012. The Cards won 12 of their last 16regular season games and are playing baseball like the Cubs did in the movie 'Rookie of the Year.' Need further evidence? The boost of winning last Friday's wild card game in Atlanta gave Mike Matheney's squad additional soaring confidence to their already hot streak.
I hate to askthe question, did the Nats peak too early? In an 162 game season it'snot like teams try and lay down and lose some games. But the pressurethe Atlanta Braves put on the Nats during September caused the team tolook a little sluggish in the final few weeks of the regular season. Including the playoffs, Washington is now 8-10since September 14th -- merely average compared to St. Louis' 14-4 record.
This isn't a science, and doesn't work every time. But it's kind of hard to argue that being average in September is good for your playoff chances.
2) Chris Carpenter was untouchable. No Nats pitcher has been untouchable this series.
Who would've thought pitching would be the Nationals demise? Each pitcher, outside of Drew Storen, continues to miss against the the fearless St. Louis lineup. For Davey Johnson to count on the inexperienced Ross Detwiler to throw a gem tomorrow is a little absurd at this point -- especially with his struggles in September.
Besides Ian Desmond's double, the only hard hit ball I can remember from the game was Bryce Harper's warning track shot in the first inning. What happened? Why now?
It's extremely difficult to pinpoint why the struggles at the plate have occurred for the Nats, who actually mashed baseballs on offense all year. The team ranked in the top 11 in runs, hits, RBI's, home runs and doubles. Still, I'd credit Carpenter and the Cardinals bullpen more than discredit the Nationals bats.
3) Time to get desperate
Ian Desmond (7-for-12 in the series) should bat leadoff on Thursday. Wouldn't you rather him be getting more at-bats than Jayson Werth at this point?
Gio Gonzalez should prepare for tomorrow like he's going to pitch, in case Detwiler struggles early.
The Nats season is on the line and the people who are playing the best at this very moment should be moved in positions to best help the team. The city of D.C. is not ready for a long, cold baseball offseason yet.