Redskins Win Lessens Blow of Nationals Playoff Elimination
October 15, 2012
The weekend started off poorly for Washington sports fans, but by Sunday evening things were looking up.
On Friday night, the Nationals faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the deciding game number five of the NLDS. The Nats had forced a fifth game thanks to a winning homerun by Jayson Werth in game four, and fans were hopeful the Nats would bring that same magic on Friday.
For the first few innings it looked like they had, with Washington taking a commanding 6-0 lead by the third inning, thanks to a double by Werth, a triple by Bryce Harper, and homeruns by Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, and Michael Morse.
But the Cardinals are nothing if not resilient. They are, after all, the same team that was down to their last strike in game six of the World Series last year, only to go on and win it all.
While Washington’s offense was on fire, their starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez was not in top form, allowing three runs on three hits, two of which were scored on a wild pitch, and a walk with the bases loaded. By the bottom of the fifth, their lead had been cut in half.
Nats manager Davey Johnson was obviously disappointed in Gonzalez, saying afterwards, “It seemed like Gio had the problem. You can’t win big ballgames by giving free passes.”
However, Gonzalez had a different take, saying “I left winning, and that’s all that matters. I gave the team a chance. That’s what they wanted out of me. I think we all battled.”
Unfortunately, their troubles weren’t over when Gonzalez left the game. Edwin Jackson gave up a solo homerun in the seventh to make it a 6-5 game, but the tension at Nationals Park seemed to lessen when Kurt Suzuki hit a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 8th for an insurance run.
The Nats had a 7-5 lead heading into the 9th, which they handed to closer Drew Storen to protect. He was one strike away from sending the Nationals to the Championship Series when he walked Cardinals third baseman David Freese.
That was followed by a single by Daniel Descalso, who scored two runs to tie the game 7-7. Although it was clear that Storen was not in control, Johnson kept him in.
Pete Kozma then singled to score two more runs and put the Cardinals ahead 9-7 before Storen finally retired the birds.
The Nationals went down quickly in the bottom of the ninth, with the stadium in quiet awe of what had just happened. It was not so surprising for the Cardinals, who never count themselves out.
With both the Orioles and the Nationals eliminated from the postseason Friday night, the attention of sports fans turned back to football.
The Redskins headed into Sunday’s game against the Vikings with an eight-game losing streak at home, and the sell-out crowd at FedEx Field was hopeful they would finally break it.
Coming off a mild concussion that knocked him out of the game last week, RGIII delivered. He completed seventeen of 22 passes for 182 yards, for one touchdown and an interception. The idea that Griffin would stop running the ball, or at least run it less after last week’s hit, was put to rest as he carried the ball thirteen times for a career-high 138 yards and two touchdowns. Griffin now has five rushing touchdowns on the year, a franchise record by a quarterback in a single season.
Griffin’s running was not only exciting, it was effective—his 76-yard touchdown run late in the game put it away for Washington, who had seen their lead shrink from nineteen points (31-12) to five (31-26). Their 38-26 win was the first at FedEx since their week two win against the Arizona Cardinals last season (September 18th, 2011).
The Redskins next face the world champion-defending and division-leading New York Giants. The Skins beat the G-men twice last year, but that didn’t stop New York from going on to become the first team with a 9-6 record to win the Super Bowl. With a win, the Skins could take possession of first place in the division and improve to 4-3.