WASHINGTON — The Nationals hugged each other tightly, congratulated each other on a good season — a season that ended abruptly and painfully.
This was a postseason classic, for sure. A game that will be talked about for years.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went to his closer, Kenley Jensen with none out in the seventh, and once the big man threw 51 pitches, it was time for Clayton Kershaw.
Before the game, Roberts insisted that Kershaw would “absolutely not” pitch. The daring moves by Roberts didn’t matter to the Nationals. It was all too painful.
“That’s what baseball’s about,” Bryce Harper said. “I thought we played a great five games, and we weren’t able to get the job done.”
Harper could appreciate what happened.
“They brought in their horse. They brought in the guy that’s got them through a lot of seasons. That’s why Clayton Kershaw is one of the best,” Harper said.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker used six pitchers in the bizarre 66-minute seventh inning, one that saw the Dodgers score all four runs.
After Joc Pederson homered off Max Scherzer, Baker started the parade with left-hander Marc Rzepycynski, who walked Yasmani Grandal, and that was Los Angeles’ second run. He took the loss.
“It starts with me. In the seventh inning, if I don’t walk that guy, who knows what happens?” Rzepczynski said.
“They’re going to talk about how they brought Kenley in in the seventh inning and then Kershaw finished. No matter what, we came up a hit short. It’s going to be tough to swallow for a little bit, I know.”
Daniel Murphy finished the five game series with a .438 average (7-for-16).
He scored the Nationals’ first run in the second inning but popped to second as Kershaw’s first batter.
“In today’s game, in short playoff series, [you’re trying] to get your best relievers in the highest leverage situations, and he did, and then he doubled down and got maybe the best pitcher in the planet in there in the biggest spot of the entire game,” Murphy said.
While he understood Roberts’ strategy, he couldn’t appreciate the theatre, the four hours, 32 minutes of wackiness.
“Probably a little too close right now. The wound is still pretty fresh in here. I’ll probably more be thinking about the pitch that I got from Clayton that I thought I could have done a little bit more with,” Murphy said.
“We’re not going to see each other until spring training. It’s frustrating and sad. Those are some of the things that hurt the most.”
The stunned Harper who has now been part of three National League East title teams has seen his season end in the Division Series all three times.
He wasn’t in the mood to reflect on the sheer amazement. That’s for fans.
“I didn’t really think about what was going on or anything like that,” Harper said.
“Watching from afar, you’re going to see everything that happens.”
Had the Nationals won, Chris Heisey would have been a hero. He hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh that helped the craziness get started.
“It happened really quick. It takes a little bit to sink in,” Heisey said. “I thought we had a chance the whole game.”
Early this season, Heisey ended a 16-inning game with the only game-ending home run of his career, so he knows dramatics.
“It just wasn’t meant to be tonight,” Heisey said.
“It was a great game to be a part of. It just stinks to be on this end of it.”
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