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What if; as if: Nationals 3, Phillies 2

So they didn't sweep, you guys.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It was supposed to be so easy. The best team in baseball was supposed to come in and lose three games in a row to the old curmudgeons who dwelt in the basement of the NL East all season. This was supposed to rattle them enough that they choked in their first playoff series: the NLDS against the Cinderella story Phillies who snuck in the dance at the last minute.

Dammit, we had it all plotted out and everything!

Ah, but the best laid plans of mice and men are destined to be used as a bad metaphor in a high school paper. And so, even with true ace Cole Hamels on the mound tonight, the Phillies were unable to get the all-important third win of their three game sweep, taking the series with the Nats at 2-1.

Perhaps if there were no such thing as an Adam LaRoche, the story might go differently.  Hamels was his normal Hamelsian self, scattering seven hits over six and a third innings while striking out seven and walking only three. Unfortunately, two of those seven hits were gopher balls, and Adam LaRoche had both, officially counting for two-thirds of the Nationals offensive (and I do mean offensive) output for today. Frankly, I think we can forgive Hamels the odd Ian Desmond double and Scott Hairston sac fly, and the bullpen held tough for a second consecutive day.

Sadly, there is such a thing as an Adam LaRoche, and the Phillies' two runs on briefly erst-while Phillie Gio Gonzalez were just not enough to turn the tide. Perhaps had they scored more than once in the first inning with the bases loaded. Perhaps if they could have managed more than one measly hit after bumping Gio out of the game in the seventh. Perhaps if Ruf's sac fly had gone a little further and found the seats. Who knows?

In the end, though, the Phillies just fell a little short, thanks to their own missed opportunities and the big bat of Adam LaRoche. Perhaps this will still serve to demoralize the heretofore streaking Nationals, though I get the feeling the Phillies' playoff hopes have dimmed somewhat. Be that as it may, it never hurts to take two of three from the division leader, so let's count this one as a moral victory. Smoothies for all!

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="">FanGraphs</a></span>

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