Confession – I don’t handle October baseball very well. Every pitch being do-or-die is both exhilarating and exhausting. The highs are oh-so-high, but the lows. Man. The lows. And the crushing finality of that last out in an elimination game. It’s like we were all on that train that Bryce Harper said was coming after Game 3, but instead of going to LA, we just slammed into an ivy-covered brick wall. And that’s it. We’re just supposed to pick up the pieces of our shattered souls and wait for next season (167 days, for anyone counting).
I wish I had some magical words to say to make everyone feel better, but I don’t. I’m sitting in a Starbucks wrapped in my Jayson Werth t-shirt and yoga pants, because I couldn’t bring myself to put real pants on today, crying into my hot chocolate. Luckily, everyone here has their face stuck in their phones, so I don’t think anyone is noticing my tears. In times like these, I often think of a Psalm – though we may weep tonight, joy cometh in the morning. It’s gonna be a long, dark night, y’all.
A lot can be said about how or why this NLDS loss happened. The bats were anemic through most of the series, and there were defensive lapses throughout. In Game 5, it seemed like everything that could go wrong, did. Jayson lost a ball in the lights at the worst possible time. Max was very un-Max in his relief appearance after getting the first two outs with relative ease. Matt Wieters couldn’t seem to stop a ball from getting past him, and he managed to get called for catcher interference. The umps apparently were unfamiliar with the entirety of the baseball rulebook, and they ignored the fact that Javy Baez’s passed-ball strikeout should have been a dead ball, as he nailed Wieters in the head with his backswing. (Fun fact – baseball reference said that in the in the 2.73 million half innings in their database, never has an intentional walk, passed-ball strikeout, catcher’s interference, and hit by pitch happened in the same one. Only 22 innings have included 3 of those, and only 5 games have had all four happen. Don’t we feel special now??) Both the umpires on the field and the review team in New York didn’t seem to want to enforce the Utley slide rule, which prevented an inning-ending double play from being turned. Oh, and the Nats managed to strand approximately 2035702349 baserunners in the game.
All of this could give armchair managers an entire offseason worth of fodder. However, I want to talk about something different. Backup catcher Jose Lobaton was double-switched into the game when Ryan Madson came in to relieve Sammy Solis after he gave up 2 hits with just one out in the 7th. In the 8th, the Nats were putting together a bit of a rally. Daniel Murphy led off the inning with a walk, and went to 2nd when Cubs closer Wade Davis walked Anthony Rendon behind him. Adam Lind pinch-hit for Madson, and unfortunately grounded into a double play, however Murphy went to 3rd. Michael A. Taylor continued his awesome streak, and brought him home on an RBI single. Lobi, who has at best struggled at the plate this season, came through with a single to put MAT into scoring position. The Nats were now within 1 run of the Cubs, and had the top of their order coming to the plate. Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras noticed Lobi was a touch far from the bag, and rifled a throw to first baseman and feeler of disrespect Anthony Rizzo. Lobi managed to beat the throw back to the base, however the Cubs chose to challenge the call. New York called him out because his foot lost contact with the bag by about an inch for a fraction of a second, which was only visible on super slow-motion replay. The call on the field was overturned, and the inning ended with the tying run stranded at 2nd base. Continue reading