Arizona on Friday night.DeSclafani struck out a season-high nine to outduel Clay Buchholz and singled before scoring one of Cincinnati’s two runs on Billy Hamilton’s suicide-squeeze bunt to help the Reds beat the Diamondbacks 3-0.DeSclafani (6-3) allowed three hits and no walks while pitching into the eighth inning of his second straight shutdown outing. He limited Washington to one run on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts in seven innings of a 7-1 victory last Saturday.“I had a good amount of things working today Adam Eaton Jersey ,” DeSclafani said. “I stayed out of the middle of the plate for the most part. I felt like this game was the most well put-together game.”The right-hander improved to 8-1 in his career when lasting at least six innings without a walk.“Anthony set the tone for the entire game,” Cincinnati manager Jim Riggleman said. “That was a good, old-fashioned ball game. That was a tough lineup he was facing. They’re in first place and have to come in here and win games. Anthony was up to the task.”“He was driving his fastball to both sides of the plate and did a good job with left-handed hitters, tying them up,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.DeSclafani gave way to Jared Hughes after allowing a leadoff single in the eighth. The NL West-leading Diamondbacks got runners to first and third before Hughes coaxed Alex Avila into a double-play grounder. Raisel Iglesias followed Paul Goldschmidt’s two-out double by striking out A.J. Pollock in the ninth for his 22nd save.DeSclafani also singled in the seventh and scored from first base on Buchholz’s throwing error on Hamilton’s bunt up the first base line, which drove in Tucker Barnhart. Buchholz fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw sailed into foul territory down the field line.“That was the first time I was ever a part of a play like that,” DeSclafani said. “I waited for Tucker to break. When I saw (third base coach Billy) Hatcher wave me around, I thought, ‘This is kind of fun. Just don’t miss the bags.'”Riggleman considered having Hamilton bunt earlier in the count, but fearing a pitchout, waited until 3-1. It paid off.“He caught me a little off-guard, bunting on a 3-1 count,” Buchholz said.The Reds, opening a nine-game homestand as the Central’s last-place team and coming off a 2-7 trip, pushed a run across in the sixth on back-to-back leadoff singles by Jose Peraza and Joey Votto, and Eugenio Suarez’s sacrifice fly to left, one step away from the warning track.Buchholz (5-2) saw his personal winning streak snapped at five over eight starts. He allowed eight hits and three runs, two earned, with two walks and four strikeouts in seven innings.LIKE OLD TIMESDeSclafani struck out at least nine batters for the fourth time in his career and first since Aug 27, 2016, at Arizona. His career high is 10 strikeouts.RAINY DAY FEELINGRain sent fans scurrying for cover in the middle of the first inning. They started returning to their seats in the bottom of the second. The start of the opener of Cincinnati’s last home stand, also on a Friday, was delayed 2 hours, 55 minutes by rain.TOWEL TIMEReds OF Scott Schebler took Friday the next step in rehabbing the sprained joint in his right shoulder by throwing a towel without letting it go. Schebler has been out and unable to throw since July 14 after injuring his shoulder crashing into the right field wall trying to make a catch in St. Louis.MR. 1700Votto’s sixth-inning bloop single to center field was his 1,700th career hit. He is the ninth player in franchise history to reach that level.TRAINER’S ROOMReds: Votto started at first base after missing two games with a bruised right knee, the result of being hit by Ryan Madson’s pitch Aug. 4 in Washington.UP NEXTDiamondbacks: Opponents are hitting a combined .195 with 48 strikeouts in LHP Robbie Ray’s seven road starts this season.Reds: RHP Matt Harvey (5-7) has a 10.66 earned-run average in his three starts since the All-Star break. Bryce Harper has held up his end of the bargain since the Washington Nationals drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010.He was only 19 years old when he debuted in 2012 http://www.nationalsfanproshop.com/authentic-max-scherzer-jersey, and that season he also made his first National League All-Star team and captured the NL Rookie of the Year Award. He's since won an NL MVP Award and made five more All-Star teams.But when Harper waltzes into free agency this offseason, the Nationals will be left to wonder how the hell they couldn't win even a single postseason series with him.Washington entered 2018 with hopes that this would be the year it got over the hump. And while the Nats haven't been eliminated from playoff contention yet, they sent up a white flag in August. They're 69-69, and the only question is whether they'll top .500.Despite this year's flop, the Nationals have more regular-season wins (624) since 2012 than every team except the Los Angeles Dodgers (634). And as their ever-increasing payrolls show, it's not for lack of trying that they did not push their success into October:In addition to Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto are cornerstones who came up through the Washington system. Moreover, general manager Mike Rizzo's free-agent and trade success stories include Max Scherzer, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, Doug Fister, Denard Span, Tanner Roark and Wilson Ramos.The Harper-era Nats aren't simply the National League's answer to Mike Trout's Los Angeles Angels, who've cursed themselves with poor additions (namely Albert Pujols) and a slow trickle of homegrown talent.If anything, the Nationals have often seemed cursed by outside forces. They've had years in which they've been overwhelmed by injuries. They've also run in to cruel and unusual fates in October, particularly in Game 5 of the 2012, 2016 and 2017 National League Division Series.Still, this is no time to let Washington escape judgment. The second guessing starts with… The Strasburg ShutdownAlex Brandon/Associated PressPartially at the behest of superagent Scott Boras, the Nationals ended Strasburg's 2012 in early September after 159.1 innings. They reasoned they had pushed him hard enough in his first full season since his 2010 Tommy John operation.But alongside an abundance of caution, there was also an element of hubris to the decision. Maybe Strasburg couldn't help in the 2012 playoffs, but what would it matter if they succeeded without him and rode his good health to further success in the future?As it happened, the Nationals did miss Strasburg in the 2012 playoffs. Though he didn't blow a ninth-inning lead to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5, things may not have gotten to that point if he'd been permitted to start a game.As former manager Davey Johnson wrote in his autobiography Michael Taylor Jersey, per Rick Maese of the Washington Post: «I felt we would have gone to the World Series with Strasburg in the rotation during the playoffs. I really don't know how the team doctors came to the conclusion to keep Stephen under a given number of 160 innings. That was their deal, not mine.»Strasburg's shutdown may have also loomed over a 2013 season in which the Nationals regressed to 86 wins and missed the playoffs. As John Feinstein of the Post argued, an overwhelming need to justify the decision created a tension within the team that manifested itself on the field.After that came… The Williams YearsAlex Brandon/Associated PressThe Nationals' return to earth in 2013 cost Johnson his job. To replace him, the organization settled on former slugger Matt Williams.Though the job was Williams' first as a major league manager, Washington was less concerned with his strategy skills than the culture he would foster. He was an old-school type who, in Rizzo's words, would bring «fire,» «desire» and a «team-first attitude.»Things were fine at first. Though Harper endured a career-worst season, everyone else played well enough to boost the team back to 96 wins. Williams was named the NL Manager of the Year.However, Williams' shine wore off when the Nationals were defeated in four games in the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants. His decision to pull Zimmermann from a shutout in the ninth inning of Game 2 led to an 18-inning defeat. Three days later, his decision to rely strictly on his «seventh-inning guys» allowed Game 4 to slip away.In 2015鈥攄espite Harper's best efforts en route to his unanimous NL MVP triumph鈥擶illiams' shine stayed worn off as the Nationals amassed only 83 wins. He continued to make bizarre strategic decisions, and he couldn't keep the clubhouse together as the losses piled up.«It's a terrible environment,» one player told Barry Svrluga of the Post that September. «And the amazing part is everybody feels that way.»The final nail in Williams' coffin probably came courtesy of then-closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got into a nasty physical altercation with Harper with a week to go in the season. Harper left that game. Papelbon, meanwhile, went back to work the subsequent inning.«That decision should be the final one he makes as Washington's manager,» Tyler Kepner of the New York Times wrote.It pretty much was, as Williams was fired the day after the season ended.The Nationals' troubles with managers didn't end there, however… The Baker FiringJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesIn the wake of Williams' firing, Washington initially wanted former San Diego Padres skipper Bud Black to take over. But after it neglected to make him a reasonable offer, it turned to Dusty Baker instead.If nothing else, Baker figured to be the anti-Williams. He came to the Nationals with 20 years of managerial experience, through which he'd garnered a reputation as a players' manager.Baker more than earned his keep in two years. The Nationals won 95 games in 2016 and 97 in 2017. And while they once again fell short in the postseason, it's hard to pin those failures squarely on Baker.The Nats went into October with injury red flags in '16 (i.e., Harper's shoulder) and '17 (Harper's knee and Scherzer's hamstring). In Game 5 of the '16 NLDS, Scherzer and a parade of relievers couldn't shield the Nats from a decisive four-run seventh inning. In Game 5 of the '17 NLDS, all hell broke loose http://www.nationalsfanproshop.com/authentic-shawn-kelley-jersey, and the Nats happened to be on the wrong side of it.Baker lost his job anyway. According to Jon Heyman, then of FanRag Sports (via Chris Chavez of SI.com), Nationals players weren't too thrilled about it. For that matter, neither was Rizzo."[Rizzo] sounded like it was one of the hardest things he had to do," Baker told Dave Sheinin of the Post.It appears Baker lost his job only because principal owner Ted Lerner and his family wanted him gone. It seems they were still sour about Baker's openly pining for an extension in the middle of the 2017 season. Or maybe they just like cycling through managers.Baker's firing might have become water under the bridge if Dave Martinez had made a strong impression as his replacement this season. Martinez is another first-year manager, but his years as an understudy to Joe Maddon promised to bring a missing dynamic to the team.«As we went through this process,» Rizzo told reporters, «it became clear the type of manager we were looking for: someone who is progressive, someone who can connect with and communicate well with our players and someone who embraces the analytical side of the game.»It's not all Martinez's fault he's failed to live up to the hype. Well before the team was broken up by waiver trades of Murphy, Gonzalez, Matt Adams, Ryan Madson and Shawn Kelley, it had already been broken by the injury bug. According to Roster Resource, only two teams have been hit harder by injuries.And yet, he can't escape blame. Complaints have been filed about his bullpen management and his tendency to send mixed messages. Even if he does have a good analytical mind, such issues raise questions about whether he has the same ability as Dave Roberts, AJ Hinch, Alex Cora or Aaron Boone to implement his vision.G Fiume/Getty ImagesThere are certainly other criticisms about how the Nationals have handled the Harper era. Their transactional record is mighty good but not spotless. To wit, it's beyond the pale that their catching situation has been the worst in the game in 2017 and 2018.But all told, the story of Washington's failure in the Harper years has less to do with the pieces and more to do with the glue that's held them together. It too easily didn't stick.Granted, the Harper years might not be over yet. Money won't be the only thing they can offer him as a free agent. Missteps aside, they're still one of MLB's strongest franchises, and Harper may not find a better place to chase a ring.But if the end is indeed nigh, there's really only one thing to say.What a waste. Stats accurate through Monday and courtesy of Baseball Reference.