WASHINGTON, D.C.: Just when it looked like all hope was lost in the nation’s capital, with the Washington Nationals down 3-1 in the eighth and about to fall behind 2-0 in the NLDS matchup with the Chicago Cubs, Bryce Harper stepped in with one on and one out, and hit a high a 3-1 curveball from Carl Edwards, Jr. to right field for a game-tying two-run home run. Bryce. Harper.
Harper was preternaturally calm before the game, telling reporters that it wasn’t that big a deal.
“I've played in a lot of, you know, bigger games, I feel like than this,” Harper said.
“You know, Game 2 of the Postseason, it's not got-to-win, but it's not -- I don't know, I don't want that to come off bad, but growing up, playing in front of 15,000 people at ten years old, it's kind of the same thing to me.”
He’s so cool.
Harper hit a two-run blast off Edwards to tie it up, and Ryan Zimmerman followed with a three-run tie breaker of a blast off Mike Montgomery that put the Nationals ahead, 6-3 after eight.
Sean Doolittle came on in the ninth and locked down the win.
NLDS tied, 1-1
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Jon Lester retired the first two batters he faced in relatively quick fashion, but left a 1-1 fastball up and over the middle of the plate to Anthony Rendon, who hit it out to right for an opposite field blast that gave the Nationals their first lead of the NLDS, 1-0.
"Do you go to @fangraphs at all?" pic.twitter.com/kW1ncvEvQD— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 7, 2017
• The Nationals’ lead didn’t last long. Two pitches into the top of the second it was tied at 1-1 after Cubs’ backstop Willson Contreras hit an 0-1 fastball out on a towering blast to left field off Gio Gonzalez.
• Gonzalez picked up two Ks in the third, giving him five total from the first ten Cubs’ batters faced, but the Cubbies struck again in the fourth with Kris Bryant doubling to left on a 1-2 fastball and Anthony Rizzo homering to right on a hanging 1-2 curve in the next at bat, 3-1 Chicago.
.@ARizzo44’s thing?— MLB (@MLB) October 7, 2017
Crushing baseballs on the regular. #NLDS pic.twitter.com/rgiqKMkCgJ
• Jon Lester was up to 10-straight Nationals set down following Rendon’s home run in the first after he retired the Nationals in order in the fourth, in a 13-pitch frame that left him at 44 total.
• Ryan Zimmerman snapped that streak of retired batters with a leadoff single to center in the first at bat of the Nats’ fifth, and he stole second with two down (no really), and took third on a wild pitch. Back-to-back walks to Michael A. Taylor and Howie Kendrick loaded the bases up in front of Trea Turner, but Lester threw a 2-2 sinker outside and got the Nats’ shortstop to chase for strike and out No. 3. Still 3-1 Cubbies.
• Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HRs, 83 P, 51 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
• Matt Albers took over on the mound in the sixth and worked around a walk in a 14-pitch frame. Sammy Solis took over with one out and one on in the seventh and got the final two outs of the frame to keep it a 3-1 game in the Cubs’ favor.
• Jon Lester’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 86 P, 51 S, 7/6 GO/FO.
• Pedro Strop took over for the Cubs in the bottom of the seventh inning and worked around a HBP on Matt Wieters for a scoreless frame.
• Ryan Madson and Oliver Perez combined for a scoreless top of the eighth.
• Cubs’ righty Carl Edwards, Jr. gave up a leadoff single to left by Adam Lind (in his first postseason at bat) on a 96 mph 0-2 fastball. Victor Robles came on to run for Lind, but Trea Turner went down swinging (at two curves that weren’t even close) for out No. 1.
Bryce Harper got to a 3-1 count, and hit a high curve out to right for a game-tying two-run home run. 3-3.
Bryce in his veins. pic.twitter.com/BkziWjbKdK— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 8, 2017
Anthony Rendon walked in the next at bat, knocking Edwards, Jr. out in favor of Mike Montgomery. Daniel Murphy singled to left... and Ryan Zimmerman stepped in and hit an 0-1 changeup to left field for a three-run blast. 6-3 Nats. THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!!
• With the score 6-3 after eight, Sean Doolittle came on in the ninth and earned the save. Ballgame. Final Score: 6-3 Nationals.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- Washington holds a one-game lead in the all-time (regular season) series with Chicago (44-43) after winning the regular season series with the Cubs.
- The 2017 Nationals are the seventh D.C.-based team to make it to the postseason, joining the 1924, ‘25, and ‘33 Washington Senators, and the 2012, ‘14, and ‘16 Nats.
- The Cubs are the first defending World Series champions to win their division the following, and reach 90 wins while doing so, since the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies.
- The Cubs and the 2009 Phillies, are actually the only other defending World Champion to win their division the following season in the last 15 years
- Dusty Baker’s Nationals are hoping to snap D.C.-baseball’s 84-year drought since the last World Series in the nation’s capital, and it’s 93-year drought since a Washington team last won (its only) World Series.
- Daniel Murphy, who went 0 for 3 with a walk, has reached base in all 20 postseason games he’s played, the second-most to begin a career in major league history, behind only Boog Powell, who reached in 25-straight.
- Dusty Baker is one of just four managers in MLB history to produce at least 1,500 hits as a player and 1,500 wins as a manager.
NLDS now tied, 1-1