It's a hard end to the season for this Nats team. I really think even if the fans, the media, and the numbers didn't believe they could come back (in decreasing order of willingness to believe) the team did believe and being out of the playoffs is a shock to their system. You get over that but it takes a few games and dammit if there isn't just a few games left in the year. I can really see them losing out in Arizona, or at least the first two before thinking finally "We don't want to go out like this". Shame.
Just a note that someone mentioned in the comments and it had been on my mind before. Prior to the introduction of the 2nd Wild Card we looked at the "last in, first out" for the single Wild Card and found that for the most part about 92 wins was where your WC chances went up a bunch, and the first out was often a little below 90. The thought was then that winning 89 games could get you in the playoffs more often than not. Well in the past two years we've seen that that may not be the case.
Last year the 2nd WCs won 88 and 93 games respectively. This year it'll likely be 92 and 90. I'll have to do some AL checks (I've only looked at the NL during the single WC period for this analysis) but doing some extrapolation the average last team has gone up about a win, maybe close to 2. I'm gonna do some more digging but if this holds it means the work is that much harder. Each successive win is harder to come by, forcing teams to win one more is a big deal.
What's happening? It's probably a chain reaction. Teams are trying harder to win the division to avoid the WC game which pushes the bar higher. Other teams interested in just making it have to do better just to keep up with teams in this first group that don't win the division. This increase in play didn't necessarily happen back in 1995* when the divisions split into 3 and the WC was added. Each playoff spot held the same allure. But now that it's a one game playoff teams have good reasons to go for the division titles. Anything can happen in one game and you do not want you're season to go down like that.
*ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO!!!