Friday, October 12, 2012

10/12 (Werth!) Quickie

The most remarkable thing about Jayson Werth's remarkable walk-off at-bat -- and, to be sure, it was about the at-bat (all 13 cliff-hanging pitches) just as much as it was the home run itself -- was that it not only pushed the Nats-Cards series to a previously improbable-seeming Game 5, but it totally neutered the national discussion -- lashing, frankly -- about the Strasburg Shut-Down.

The Strasburg replacement, Ross Detwiler, pitched the game of his life -- hardly dominant, but so thoroughly "good enough" that the guy just redefined his otherwise middling career. The Nats' relief corps was so good that the combined effort of the three pitchers could only be described as "Verlandian."

But it was that marvelous, magical at-bat by Werth -- The At-Bat, as it should be known forever in D.C. sports legend, regardless of what happens tonight -- that gave D.C. its first real (read: classic October) baseball moment in a half-century or more.

Just ask Orioles fans: At some point (namely, when you face elimination in Game 4), all you want to do is get yourself to an ultimate win-or-season-over Game 5, in which anything can happen. (Just ask the Braves.) The Strasburg debate is behind us; Nats ace Gio Gonzalez gets a chance to make up for his oddly ineffective Game 1 start -- a month ago, I sat 10 rows from the field as he dominated the Cards in D.C.

It is Game 5 in D.C., between the NL's best story in 2012 and the reigning World Series champs.

It is Game 5 in N.Y.C., between the AL's best story in 2012 and the biggest bullies in the sport.

It is hard to ask for much more, and if you were looking for a symbol of how gripping this 2012 MLB postseason has been so far, last night's 13-pitch sequence between Lynn and Werth captures it. It is too much to ask that today's LDS finales match last night's drama -- but it gives us a template for how good it has the potential to be.

We have a terrific lineup in college football tomorrow -- as far as unexpected results go, I'll take LSU at home over South Carolina (tomorrow's must-see game), Stanford over Notre Dame, BYU giving Oregon State its first loss of the season and TCU doubling down on last week's loss with another loss at Baylor.

And it will be a typically compelling Sunday in the NFL -- as far as I'm concerned, the No. 1 story is the state of Robert Griffin III and the national (and nation's capital) cringing every time a defensive player approaches him.

But for today, baseball rules. Enjoy the games tonight and the weekend's action.

-- D.S.

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