The Washington Nationals have once again made a first-round exit in the postseason. The National League East’s top club couldn’t get past the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs in a decisive NLDS Game 5 at home on Thursday evening despite winning just one day prior at Wrigley Field to force the rubber match.
For general manager Mike Rizzo and the Nationals, that is now four losses in Game 5’s over the last six seasons.
“It’s never easy,” Rizzo told MLB.com. “I thought we should have won all four times. We had the talent to win, but it didn’t happen.”
The Nationals overcame an early first inning run by the Cubs, thanks to the heroics of center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who bashed a three-run homer in the second to put Washington up, 4-1. However, the Cubs reeled off seven unanswered runs and wound up winning the game, 9-8, en route to advancing to the club’s third consecutive NLCS.
The adage that “there’s always next year” has been used time and time again for the Nationals. But while some may believe the Nationals’ window is closing, Rizzo still does not. Such a notion also includes the status of right fielder Bryce Harper, who is slated to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2018 season.
“People have been talking about our two-year window for the last six years,” Rizzo said. “We’re built for the long haul. We’re going to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start grinding again for next season. We didn’t play a clean game, but we played a game with passion and effort. We battled to the last out. I’m proud of that.”
Nonetheless, there are still pieces to build around, and maybe next year will be the year for Rizzo and his always competitive ball club.
“Just keep getting there, keep giving ourselves opportunities,” Rizzo added. “It’s like the Bulls when they had to overtake the Pistons after all those years [in the NBA], then they won six championships in eight years. You have to just keep going, man. Keep grinding, keep building, keep getting quality people in here. We’re going to be fine here in Washington.”