Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Nats Late Inning Collapse Crushes Playoff Hopes

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Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For six innings, the Washington Nationals looked like they were going to get their biggest win of the year. When Michael Taylor crossed the plate on the single, turned inside-the-park home run, the Nats had a 7-1 lead and had finally figured out how to hit Matt Harvey, who had a 0.99 ERA in eight career starts against the Nationals coming into last night’s game. Then, the seventh inning happened.

For the second straight game, the Nats bullpen was not able to come up with the key outs in the big spots. The Mets would score six runs in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is hitting .200 this year, hit a solo shot off Jonathan Papelbon, which ended up being the game winning home run.

All season long, it has been a common theme that separates why the Mets are six games ahead of the Nats with 24 games to go. When New York got down the last couple of games, they kept battling and grinding out at-bats. Meanwhile, the Nationals could not fight back and prevent the collapse from happening.

Plus, one of the Nats’ best hitters, Anthony Rendon, bunted in a 3-1 count in the ninth inning and could not get move the runner over. The bullpen was short-handed with all the relievers that were used and Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ closer,  has a fastball that makes it tough to deaden the ball on a bunt attempt. In the end, the Nats ended up hitting a double play anyway as Yunel Escobar’s 5-4-3 double play ended the game.

For a season that had fans dreaming of a World Series run, it looks more and more like they will be watching other teams playing postseason baseball. While the fans are not happy with manager Matt Williams right now, the bullpen has to get big outs at some point:

Before Stephen Strasburg tries to help the Nats avoid the sweep against Jacob deGrom tonight (7:05 PM ET, MASN2/ESPN), check out my takeaways from last night’s crushing 8-7 loss:

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