Observations from Game Five at Nats Park

by Jason Epstein

Rich offered condolences to Nationals fans after Friday night’s 9-7 season-ending loss to the Cardinals. I did the same at Nationals Park after Ryan Zimmerman popped up a 1-2 pitch that ultimately landed in the glove belonging to Daniel Descalso.

From the moment General Martin Dempsey threw out the first pitch, the stadium was louder than any game I have attended since the Expos moved to Washington after the 2004 season. The crowd reacted loudly to every pitch Gio Gonzalez threw in the top of the first inning. And when Jayson Werth led off the bottom half with a double, Bryce Harper followed with a triple, and Zimmerman socked a 2-1 pitch into the right-center field stands, well, the joint was on fire.

After the Nats doubled their lead in the third, thanks to home runs from Harper and Michael Morse, everyone around me, including a handful of Cards fans, were sure that the Giants would be flying to DC.

(I am also pretty sure there were more instances of seated fans suddenly rising up to chant than at a synagogue on Rosh Hashanah.)

The crowd remained uber-confident until the 8th inning home run to Descalso and then regained its confidence moments later when Kurt Suzuki knocked in the “insurance run.”

Every Nats fan seemed sure that Drew Storen would strike out Yadier Molina or David Freese. By the time Descalsco came to bat, however, the folks around me were downright worried, only for it to be replaced moments later with utter shock.

And when Harper chased the ball over his head in the 9th, it got eerily quiet and numerous fans started streaming for the exit, most with their heads down. I’m not sure anyone really thought Zimmerman was going to keep the season alive.

And while I expressed sympathy for the Nats fans in my midst, I was thrilled for Carlos Beltran, who started the rally .

Right Field

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