The Cubs Move One Step Closer to Repeating - NLDS Breakdown
The divisional round of the MLB playoffs has now officially come to a close. The Yankees, Astros, Dodgers, and Cubs will advance to the championship series looking for a chance to punch a ticket to the World Series. On Thursday, October 12, the last divisional series wrapped up in a crazy game five between the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs.
In game one, the Nationals sent Stephen Strasburg to the mound to face Kyle Hendricks, and for seven innings, the duo was incredible, going back and forth with very dominant performances. Strasburg did allow two unearned runs in the sixth innings, while Hendricks did not allow a single run over his seven innings of work. The Cubs would go on to score one more run on a double from Anthony Rizzo in the eighth inning. The story of this game was incredibly dominant starting pitching, and the Cubs ended up winning game one with a score of 3-0.
For game two, the Cubs sent veteran Jon Lester to the mound in an attempt to keep the momentum going after Hendricks’ dominant game one start. Other than a first inning homer from Anthony Rendon, Lester only allowed only one hit, and lasted six innings. While Lester was cruising against the Nats, Gio Gonzalez took the ball and gave up three runs on two home runs from Wilson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo. After 7 innings, the Cubs had a 3-1 lead and looked to grab a commanding 2-0 series lead, unfortunately for them, they ran full speed into Bryce Harper, who hit a two run homer to tie the game in the eighth. Three batters later, Ryan Zimmerman launched a three run homer that would put the Nats ahead for good, as they took game two with a score of 6-3.
Game three ended up being another pitcher's duel, this time between Jose Quintana and Max Scherzer. Jose Quintana pitched well, allowing no earned runs in 5.2 innings, but did allow a run on a double from Ryan Zimmerman. Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before he allowed an RBI single to Albert Almora Jr. Scherzer left the game with the score tied 1-1, but that would not last for long, as Anthony Rizzo lofted a bloop single to left field to score a run that would bring the score to 2-1. The Rizzo hit was huge because the Nationals did not pitch around Rizzo, and he was amped up when he got the hit, as he felt the Nationals were disrespecting him. The Cubs won game three 2-1.
Game four was incredible. It was rained out, and was delayed a day, and the starter for the Nats was supposed to be Tanner Roark, because Stephen Strasburg had fallen terribly ill, and had to be heavily medicated on the original day of game four. The delay allowed for Strasburg to pitch, and oh man, did he pitch. Strasburg threw seven innings while striking out 12, and looked like he was the most dominant pitcher on the face of the planet. He made the Cubs look like a little league team. He was only given one run of run support while he was pitching, but when he was removed from the game, Michael Taylor hit a grand-slam for the Nationals, which put them ahead 5-0. The score would hold and the Nationals tied the series 2-2 with a game five in Washington D.C.
Game five looked like it was going to be a blowout from the Nationals after the second inning. In the first, the Cubs scored a run on an RBI groundout from Anthony Rizzo, but in the second inning, the Nats put up four runs on a solo shot from Daniel Murphy, and a three-run shot from Michael Taylor. The Nationals would hang onto their 3-run lead for all of one inning. In the third, the Cubs came roaring back and cut the deficit to one run, and they knocked Nationals starter, Gio Gonzalez, out of the game after three innings. The Cubs would go on to score five runs after Gio was removed from the game, which gave them a 8-4 lead. The Nationals were not done yet though, as they scratched two runs across the board in the sixth, but the Cubs were quick to answer with another run of their own in the seventh, which left the score at 9-6. The Nationals would tack on one run in each of the seventh and eighth inning, but ultimately fell short and lost the game 9-8 after Wade Davis threw 2.1 innings to earn a save.
The Cubs ended up winning the series in five games, and will go on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. This situation is the worst, the Cubs and the Dodgers are the only two teams in the MLB that I actively root against. I don’t know if I can watch the NLCS because I honestly want both teams to lose, which isn’t possible. I hope that whoever comes out of the American League evicerates whoever comes out of the National League and wins the World Series.
Also, Wade Davis became the second pitched to record a 7+ out save in a winner-take-all game since 1973. The other performance was from Madison Bumgarner in game 7 of the 2014 World Series. I would like to ask you to stop even thinking about comparing Bumgarner and Davis’ performances. Madison Bumgarner threw five shutout innings in relief on two days rest after throwing a complete-game shutout, while Wade Davis is a closer who got seven outs. Chill.