No Washington, D.C., sports franchise has made it to a championship round since the Capitals played in the Stanley Cup finals in 1998, and that record was left unsullied Thursday night when the Washington Nationals lost to the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. The Cubs' 9-8 win sends them to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers, starting Saturday night, in the National League Championship Series. The Cubs, defending World Series champs, took the lead after a disastrous fifth inning for the Nats.
"In breaking down this particular evening — when the Nationals once held a three-run lead — consider the simplicity of this," writes a despondent Barry Svrluga in The Washington Post: "The Nationals entered the fifth inning with a 4-3 advantage and handed the ball to Max Scherzer, who might well win his third Cy Young Award this year as his league's best pitcher. When Scherzer left the mound at the end of that frame, the Nats trailed 7-4." Scherzer struck out the first two batters, "only to see the frame devolve into a barrage of two-strike hits and sheer ineptitude from the Nationals," USA Today explains. "It turned into a sloppy battle of attrition from there, with equal displays of dismal relief pitching and situational execution on both sides."
In the American League Championship Series, the New York Yankees are facing off against the Houston Astros.