Cardinals vs. Nationals, 2012 NLDS Game 5: Washington fans deal with coming so close to NLCS

The Washington Nationals were one strike away from advancing to play the San Francisco Giant in the National League Championship series...twice.

All hard throwing reliever Drew Storen needed was one more strike to get past the St. Louis Cardinals and set off a wild celebration among the Washington faithful...twice.

Instead of delivering strike three and the highlight of the Nationals season, the young right-hander missed the plate...twice. Storen walked Yadier Molina and David Freese instead of closing the series which led to Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma rising up to deliver the game-winning runs for the Cards.

After coming so close, stunned Nats fans were only left to look ahead. SB Nation's Federal Baseball took the gut punch and found some sympathy from manager Davey Johnson:

As far as a message for the Nationals fans, who'd filled Nationals Park and hung on every pitch, embracing this team in a way you hadn't seen in years past, Johnson said simply, "I'm sorry. We'll make it up to them next year. It was a fun ride. A lot of character. I really enjoyed managing them this year."

"You know," Johnson said, "I've been on the other end of the stick, where just one out and you move on. We couldn't get it. We had the right people there. Just got a little too cautious."

One strike away.

And just like that, the offseason begins for the Washington Nationals.

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