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October 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm ET
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A Season on the Brink (It’s Up to You, Ross)

Anyone catch the 18-wheeler that ran over the Nats this afternoon? I think it was driven by an older fellow with a scraggly beard and a bunch of scars on his right arm. A record-setting 45,000+ witnesses. Damn, was it gruesome.

This isn’t good.

Maintaining optimism after Monday’s loss was easy; the Nationals headed home with the territorial advantage and the confidence of splitting the first two games of their series.

Optimism was pronounced dead in Capitol Hill at roughly 4PM EST on October 10, 2012.

So, who can we blame?

Edwin Jackson: Despite his journeymen-like career, he’s pitched like anything but — we’ve talked about his prowess at home, but Jackson also has more postseason pitching experience than anyone else on the team. This isn’t new for him. Jackson’s implosion on Wednesday was the third consecutive crappy start by a Nationals pitcher. Their totals so far (courtesy of Mark Zuckerman): 13 IP, 16 hits, 11 earned runs, 11 walks, and 11 strikeouts. Aside from the strikeouts, that’s terrible. Oh, and for the people that think Steve would have avoided all of this: you’re idiots. One pitcher’s presence on the mound doesn’t guarantee dominance or the success of three other starters or your inept offense. Please stop talking.

Bryce Harper: Harper was primed to showcase his skills at the start of this series and instead he’s done quite the opposite. Wednesday’s 0-fer puts him at 1-15 with five strikeouts through three games. Monday’s base running gaffe notwithstanding, he’s been one of the worst players in all four division series. If one is judged by the company he keeps, Harper is the Washington equivalent of Alex Rodriguez.

The Bullpen: I’m not sure if it’s because they haven’t had to pitch in many low-leverage situations, but the Nationals bullpen has imploded. Sean Burnett, Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus, et. al have combined with the starters to give up 20 runs in two games. Wednesday was no different: down 4-0 in the fifth, the ‘pen helped the Cards pad their lead by giving up another four runs.

In reality, the entire team: The Fox Sports report citing an unnamed National still pissed off about the decision to bench Steve is ridiculous. You guys won 98 games this year. Steve pitched in 19 of them. You mean to tell me the other 79 games were a fluke? Grow up. In fact, don’t grow up, go take some extra batting practice (yes, even the pitchers). You were shutout today.

The walls are caving in on the Nats. Tomorrow’s game is win or go home and the timing couldn’t be worse: it’s the first time this season Washington has had to play a “must-win” ballgame. While the Kyle Lohse v. Ross Detwiler match-up doesn’t favor the Nationals, this is all they’ve got. A win keeps the dream season alive one more day. A loss brings a deluge of questions, second guessing, and disappointment. What are you gonna do, boys?

 

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