After a night of sleeping on it, we wake up, as Nats fans, still stunned by the monumental collapse just a few hours ago, that ended the Washington Nationals season. It would be easy to just say, Drew Storen blew it. But, it was more than just Drew Storen.
The Nationals jumped to a 6-0 lead. It was a lead that should have held. But, it didn't. Storen did implode in the ninth inning, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks and four runs. That's fact. He labored through 33 pitches in the doomed ninth inning.
However, we watched as the Nats pitching in total allowed the Cardinals to jump back in. Starter Gio Gonzalez had his own fifth inning implosion, allowing 3 runs and the Cards to cut the deficit in half. Edwin Jackson struggled in the seventh inning to allow a hit, 2 walks, and a run to close the deficit to just two runs. Tyler Clippard came on in the eighth inning to allow the Cards to pull within one run.
It wasn't just Storen. You could feel the Nationals steady decline. You could feel another improbable Cards come back. Ian Desmond missed a grounder that he normally woud have grabbed for an out. Danny Espinosa flubbed a double play, failing to get the ball out of his glove. You could feel it. The Cards were stacked against the Nats, literally. It was more than a ninth inning implosion. It was a four inning implosion.
The Nats offense can bare some blame. Again, they score runs early, the first three innings, outside Kurt Suzuki's late RBI single, but for the most part disappeared after the third inning. Cards are an explosive team. The Nats offense never responded to the Cards improbable comeback.
So while it easy for us to just say, Storen blew it, it was much more than that. The Nats had a commanding lead that they allowed to just be chipped away.
This team is young. They will be back. In what form, we don't know. Mike Rizzo is a proven GM that has proven time and time again to make bold moves. Will he this offseason? We will watch and see. But, the Nats time is no where close to being up. It just ends for 2012.
Keep you heads up Nats fans. This team is a solid, young baseball team, designed to compete for years to come. Maybe, just maybe, this is the kind of loss that was needed to harden the youth for future post season runs.