Another NL East title. Another NLDS disappointment. Washington’s Nationals dropped Game 5 of the Division Series with the Chicago Cubs tonight in devastating fashion in an ugly, gaffe-filled affair that fulfilled all the worst expectations of a city that’s sure it’s doomed to be disappointed.
Daniel Murphy (solo shot) and Michael A. Taylor (three-run blast) homered in the home-half of the second inning, putting Washington up 4-1 after two in Nationals Park, but it was a one-run lead a half-inning later as Gio Gonzalez struggled on the mound in start No. 2 of the series for the left-hander.
Max Scherzer came out of the bullpen in the top of the fifth with the Nationals trying to protect a one-run lead, but seven straight batters reached base after the first two outs were recorded, with back-to-back-to-back hits, capped off by a two-run double by Addison Russell, a passed ball/throwing error, hit-by-pitch, and catcher’s interference call in succession in a brutal stretch that ended with the Nationals trailing, 7-4.
It ended up a 9-8 loss for the 2017 NL East champions, who’ll have all winter to think about what went wrong this time.
Cubs win NLDS, 3-2 over Nationals
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Two pitches in, the Cubs had a runner on second after Jon Jay lined an 0-1 two-seamer to right field and beat Bryce Harper’s throw in to the bag.
Dusty Baker reviewed the call at second, but lost the challenge, and a wild pitch to Kris Bryant put Jay on third base with no one out.
Gonzalez threw a high 3-2 changeup by Bryant for the first out of the frame, but a groundout to second by Anthony Rizzo brought in the first run, 1-0 Cubs.
Back-to-back, two-out walks loaded the bases, but Gonzalez got a groundout to first to end a 26-pitch first.
• Trea Turner singled to start the Nationals’ half of the first, stole second, took third on a liner to center, but got thrown out at home trying to score on a grounder to second.
• Daniel Murphy, who homered off Kyle Hendricks twice in their lone regular season matchup, took the Cubs’ right-hander deep to center on a first-pitch sinker to lead off the Nationals’ half of the second, tying it up at 1-1.
• Anthony Rendon singled in the at bat after Murphy’s home run, and Matt Wieters bunted for a hit against the shift to put two on with no one out.
Michael A. Taylor stepped in next and hit a high 0-2 fastball out to left-center field for a three-run blast, 4-1 Nats. Taylor’s second in two at bats after last night’s grand slam and second of the Postseason.
• Gio Gonzalez gave up a leadoff double to left-center by Kris Bryant and back-to-back, one-out walks that loaded the bases in the third, and an Addison Russell groundout to short brought in the Cubs’ second run, 4-2 Nats. A wild pitch to Jason Heyward brought in the third run of the game for Chicago, 4-3 after two and a half.
• Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 67 P, 39 S, 3/1 GO/FO.
• Matt Albers retired the Cubs in order in a 16-pitch fourth after taking over on the mound.
• Max Scherzer thrilled the crowd in Nationals Park when he came out of the bullpen and retired the first two batters he faced, but Willson Contreras, pinch hitter Ben Zobrist, and Addison Russell connected for back-to-back-to-back two-out hits, two singles, and a two-run double by Russell on a sharp grounder by third, 5-4 Cubs.
• Scherzer got a swinging third strike from Javier Baez in the next at bat, but the ball got by Matt Wieters, who threw it away trying for the out at first as the sixth run of the game for the Cubs scored, 6-4. A bases loaded hit-by-pitch made it 7-4.
• Kyle Hendricks’ Line: 4.0 IP 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER 1 BB, 7 Ks, 2 HRs, 81 P, 59 S, 1/2 GO/FO.
• Brian Duensing took over on the mound for the Cubs in the bottom of the fifth and got two outs after a leadoff walk, and Pedro Strop got Michael A. Taylor swinging to end the frame.
• Brandon Kintzler got two quick outs, but a two-out walk to Ben Zobrist led to another run when Addison Russell hit a low liner to left that Jayson Werth lost in the lights, 8-4 Cubs after the ball got by Werth and rolled to the track.
• Pedro Strop retired two batters, but Mike Montgomery took over on the mound gainst Bryce Harper after a two-out walk to Jayson Werth.
Harper lined a double over the first base bag, putting two runners in scoring position for Ryan Zimmerman, who took ball four on a wild pitch that got by Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras, allowing Werth to score, 8-5.
Daniel Murphy followed with an RBI double to left on a 2-1 fastball from Montgomery, just missing a game-tying blast, 8-6, but after an intentional walk to Anthony Rendon, Matt Wieters flew out to left to end the threat.
• Sammy Solis gave up back-to-back, one-out singles in the top of the seventh inning, but Ryan Madson came on to face Kris Bryant, who hustled to first to avoid a double play, 9-6 Cubbies when Kyle Schwarber scored.
• Carl Edwards, Jr. walked Michael A. Taylor and was quickly replaced on the mound by Jose Quintana, who gave up a one-out single by Trea Turner, and walked Jayson Werth to load the bases in front of Bryce Harper, who brought Taylor in with a sac fly, 9-7.
• Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon went to closer Wade Davis with two on and two out, and Ryan Zimmerman at the plate, and Davis got a swinging K with an 0-2 cutter.
• Madson came back out with a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the eighth, keeping it a two-run game, 9-7 Cubs.
• Davis came back in the eighth for looking for outs No. 2-4 of a seven-out save, and issued back-to-back walks to Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon. Adam Lind stepped in as the potential go-ahead run, and sent a grounder to second to start a 4-6-3 DP.
Michael A. Taylor stepped in next and hit a line drive single to center to make it a one run game, 9-8 Cubs. Jose Lobaton lined another single to center field to put two on in front of Trea Turner, but Lobaton got picked off first on a play that had to be reviewed before they say the backup catcher’s foot come off the bag.
• Sean Doolittle retired the Cubs in order in the ninth to keep it a one-run game.
• Davis came back out looking for three more outs and retired the Nationals in order. Ballgame. Final Score: 9-8 Cubs.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- Washington’s 819 runs scored this season were the most in franchise history, as were the Nationals’ 215 regular season home runs.
- Washington took the regular season series from Chicago, 4-3, with two of three in Wrigley Field and a split of the four games played in Nationals Park against the Cubs.
- Tonight’s game is Chicago’s seventh “winner-take-all” post-season game. The others for the Cubs: 1945 World Series Game 7 (9-3 loss vs Detroit); 1984 League Championship Series Game 5 (6-3 loss at San Diego); 2003 Division Series Game 5 (5-1 win at Atlanta), 2003 League Championship Series Game 7 (9-6 loss vs Florida) and 2015 Wild Card Game (4-0 win at Pittsburgh).
- Gio Gonzalez started the night (3-3) with a 3.06 ERA in ten regular season starts against the Cubs in his career, and he’d posted 1.34 ERA (6 ER/40 1⁄3 IP) in six regular season starts against the Cubs at Nationals Park in his career.
- Cubs’ starters posted a 0.40 ERA (1 ER/22 2⁄3 IP) in the first four games of the NLDS before tonight.
- Cubs starting pitchers have limited the Nationals to a .103 AVG while the Nationals starters have held the Cubs hitters to a .122 AVG through four games.
- Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker is one of just four managers in major league history to produce at least 1,500 hits as a player and win at least 1,500 games as a manager.
Cubs win NLDS, 3-2 over Nationals