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That ‘season-defining win’ the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo hyped so hard to teammates — anybody seen it?

A three-game sweep by the Nationals followed soon after. It was awful, especially for a team that had been so good at home this season. What happened against Washington spoke volumes about where the Cubs are and where they’re going.

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs
The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo throws his helmet after striking out against the Nationals on Friday at Wrigley Field. The Cubs lost 9-3.
Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

It’s important we get the words just right. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo didn’t say his team’s rousing, come-from-behind victory last week against the Giants was ‘‘something to build on.’’ He didn’t say it ‘‘hinted at good things to come.’’

To his teammates, he said it was ‘‘a season-defining win.’’

His words were a proclamation, a call to arms, a rallying cry for the team. They led sports broadcasts the next day. If Rizzo was to be believed, the Cubs were going places, thanks to the emotional shove the 12-11 victory had provided.

And what did the Cubs do after a thriller at Wrigley Field that so specifically had spelled out the rest of the season for them? After one more victory against the middling Giants, they ran into the hot Nationals, who surgically removed the Cubs’ asses over the weekend, wrapped them up and handed them back. A three-game sweep.

However you want to define it, it was awful, especially for a team that had been so good at home this season. What happened against the Nationals spoke volumes about where the Cubs are and where they’re going.

You might think it harsh to body-slam a team that is 69-61 and still in the hunt for a division title. You might deem it unfair to be hard on a franchise that won a World Series three years ago and has been to the playoffs four consecutive seasons.

But there’s something missing with this club, something fundamental. There’s a Fall of Rome whiff to it all.

Maybe those words will backfire on me the way Rizzo’s words seem to have backfired on him. But I don’t think so.

If any game was season-defining for the Cubs, it was a 7-5 loss Aug. 15 to the Phillies, the one in which Bryce Harper hit a walk-off grand slam against Derek Holland. That was much more a reflection of what the Cubs are and how far they have fallen from the team that won the 2016 World Series.

You know what? We shouldn’t even bring up that championship team. These Cubs are far removed from that season — in time, talent and mentality.

It doesn’t take an expert to see this team is flawed. It’s not just the impatience at the plate, though that remains a problem. It’s not just a leaky bullpen. It’s something more basic, more inherent. Opponents aren’t intimidated by the North Siders the way they used to be. Games that, in the past, you just knew the Cubs were going to pull out — games opponents knew the Cubs were going to pull out — now slink away. That happened Sunday, when the Nationals scored two runs in the 11th inning to win 7-5.

It’s impossible to dismiss the Cubs’ 25-39 road record as a fluke. That record says something elemental about the players and the manager. It says they don’t perform well when there isn’t a fawning crowd around to tell them they’re worthwhile.

Team president Theo Epstein will judge manager Joe Maddon on the entirety of Maddon’s tenure in Chicago, but the series against the Nationals couldn’t have helped his cause for a new contract. If I were a betting man, I’d say Maddon needs to light a fire under a fragile group of players the rest of the season if he wants to get another deal. I didn’t think that a month ago.

With his ‘‘season-defining win’’ message to his teammates, Rizzo was doing what coaches and athletes have been doing since humans started playing games and fighting wars: He was trying to motivate the troops. If he said the nail-biter against the Giants was a season-defining victory, one that illustrated the grit that would carry the team to new heights, perhaps it would make it true.

But it hasn’t turned out that way. Modern sensibilities don’t like the idea of grit or will to win. But show me something from this season that points to a team that can win because of sheer determination. The Cubs have gotten a nice offensive infusion from Nick Castellanos, whom they acquired from the Tigers at the trade deadline, and it hasn’t picked up the rest of the roster in any meaningful way.

Again, maybe we’ll see a delayed reaction to Rizzo’s proclamation of a turning-point victory. Maybe the Cubs will pick it up against the Mets, who are 15-8 this month, when they face them in a three-game series that starts Tuesday in New York.

Maybe. But nothing about the season to date suggests they will.