When Jayson Werth's memorable 13-pitch at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning ended Game 4 with a walk-off blast that will send the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals to a decisive Game 5 in the National League Division series on Friday night, the defending champions now sit one game away from squandering a 2-1 series lead.
Dan Moore of SB Nation's Cardinals blog, Viva El Birdos, broke down the added importance of missed opportunities in the postseason heading into Game 5:
"Tie ballgames don't feel like tie ballgames in the postseason, because it takes a lot of mistakes and missed opportunities to make the average tie ballgame ... In the postseason each one reads as a missed opportunity, a kind of buffoonish failure to recognize just how few opportunities each team gets before they're eliminated.
Which is to say that the Cardinals' not-entirely-unfamiliar inability to score runs for an effective starter played up a little more sinister than usual in this particular context-it wasn't just the way they'd left the game tied, it was proof that they'd eventually lose it, having failed to properly appreciate what they had."
As Adam Wainwright will start for the Cardinals, Washington sends Gio Gonzalez, who last started in the Nationals' 3-2 win in Game 1, to the hill. Moore is anticipating another stressful night of playoff baseball:
"In Game 5 the Cardinals will run up against their other missed opportunity, when Gio Gonzalez probably won't walk seven batters in five innings. Anticipated angst levels: High."