Max Scherzer, in his first start since September 30th when he tweaked his hamstring in his final regular season outing, took the mound this afternoon in Game 3 of the NLDS with the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field, and took a no-hit bid and a 1-0 lead into the seventh inning.
A one-out double on his 98th pitch ended the Washington Nationals’ ace’s night, and Ben Zobrist, who’d lined to left for the Cubs’ first hit, scored on a pinch hit single to left field by Albert Almora, Jr. off Nats’ reliever Sammy Solis, 1-1.
It was still tied at 1-1 in the eighth when Anthony Rizzo hit a two-out RBI single into short-center, where it dropped in between Jayson Werth, Michael A. Taylor and Trea Turner as the go-ahead run scored. 2-1 Cubs. That’s how it ended.
It was scoreless through five, with Cubs’ starter Jose Quintana limiting the Nationals’ hitters to two hits and a walk in 5 2/3, but Kyle Schwarber tracked a two-out fly ball by Daniel Murphy to the left field corner and had it bounce off his glove, then he flipped it away from himself, and kicked it, as Murphy made his way around to third.
Pedro Strop took over for Quintana, and gave up an opposite field double to the right-center gap by Ryan Zimmerman on a 1-1 change. Murphy scored to make it 1-0 at that point, but the Cubs rallied with one run in the seventh and another in the eighth and took Game 3, 2-1.
NLDS now 2-1 Cubs.
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Cubs’ starter Jose Quintana was generating a lot of weak contract early, with five ground ball outs, three back to the mound, from the first seven batters he faced as he worked around a two-out single by Jayson Werth in the second for two scoreless to start Game 3.
• Michael A. Taylor singled to start the Nationals’ third, took second on an errant pick attempt when Anthony Rizzo started to break toward home for a potential bunt by Max Scherzer just as Quintana threw to first. Two outs later, Taylor took third base when Ben Zobrist failed to field a grounder to his backhand off Bryce Harper’s bat.
Anthony Rendon stepped in with runners on the corners and two out, and lined out to right-center, where Jason Heyward made a running catch in the gap. Still 0-0.
• Max Scherzer, who appeared to be tapping his hamstring on occasion to encourage it, retired the first nine Cubs’ batters he faced to complete three scoreless and hitless on just 39 pitches.
• Jon Jay made a running catch on a Matt Wieters’ fly to center to end the top of the fourth, then took a Scherzer fastball off the front hip in the first at bat of the Cubs’ half of the frame. Jay was forced out at second one out later, but an E:6 on a throw by Trea Turner on a potential inning-ending double play off Anthony Rizzo’s bat kept the Cubs’ fourth alive. Rizzo took second on the error, and Willson Contreras walked with two down, but Ben Zobrist grounded out to end short to end Scherzer’s fourth hitless frame.
• Scherzer worked around a leadoff walk in the fifth and finished five scoreless and hitless on 79 pitches.
• Daniel Murphy sent a two-out fly to the left field corner in the top of the sixth, but Kyle Schwarber got there, and... missed it... then he failed to pick it up... and kicked it away from himself... allowing Murphy to take third. That was it for Quintana. Righty Pedro Strop came on against Ryan Zimmerman, and gave up a line drive to the right-center gap on a 1-1 fastball outside that Zimmerman powered to right for an oppo- double that put the Nationals up, 1-0.
Not gonna say it was Rufus, but... pic.twitter.com/axAKD8Qoj8— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 9, 2017
• Jose Quintana’s Line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 96 P, 63 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
Another strong starting pitching performance. pic.twitter.com/t2eGNMaT3c— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 9, 2017
• Max Scherzer issued his third walk of the day to Kris Bryant with one down in the Cubs’ half of the sixth inning, but he got a 6-3 DP out of Anthony Rizzo to make it six scoreless and hitless on 90 pitches.
• Dusty Baker sent his starter back out for the seventh, and Scherzer retired one batter before giving up his first hit on a 1-0 fastball that Ben Zobrist lined off the left field wall on a hop. That was it for Scherzer, who threw 98 pitches in 6 1⁄3 innings pitched.
• Sammy Solis came on against pinch hitter Albert Almora with Zobrist on second, and gave up an RBI single to left on a 3-2 changeup that Almora lined through short to bring Zobrist in, 1-1. Jason Heyward lined a broken-bat single to left in the next at bat, and Baker went to the pen again for Brandon Kintzler, who gave up a hard-hit liner to center by Addison Russell... that Michael A. Taylor tracked down. With both Cubs on the run, they had no shot to get back and the Nats doubled Heyward up a first for an 8-4-3 DP. M.A.T.
• Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 98 P, 60 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
• Carl Edwards, Jr. retired the Nationals in order in a 14-pitch frame in the eighth.
• Kintzler came back out for the eighth inning and issued a leadoff walk to Tommy La Stella. Leonys Martin came on to run at first base, and took second on a sac bunt by Jon Jay. Kris Bryant stepped in next and went down swinging at a diving 1-2 change for out No. 2.
Oliver Perez took over on the mound with Anthony Rizzo up and the go-ahead run at second base, and Rizzo hit a blooper to center that fell in-between Trea Turner, Jayson Werth and Michael A. Taylor for an RBI single, 2-1 Cubs.
• Wade Davis took the mound in the ninth with a one-run lead, and retired the Nats in order to end it. Ballgame. Final Score: 2-1 Cubs.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- In their all-time regular season series, the Washington Nationals hold a 44-43 advantage over the Chicago Cubs.
- The Nationals took two of three from the Cubs in Wrigley Field this season, and the two teams split the four games in the nation’s capital.
- Washington’s 50-31 record on the road this season was the best road record in the National League.
- Chicago was 48-33 at home in Wrigley Field this season, and home teams MLB-wide had a combined 11-1 record so far in the Postseason before today, with Washington the one team to lose at home.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Washington’s win in Game 2 marked the first time in Postseason history that a team had won in its last time up on separate game-tying and game-winning home runs.
- Max Scherzer started today’s game (3-1) with a 2.92 ERA in six career outings against the Cubs.
- Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon is the first Cubs manager to lead Chicago to three-straight postseasons since Frank Chance did in 1906-08.
- The Cubs started the day 6-16 in Game 3s of post-season series, including an 0-3 record in 2016 and a 1-1 mark in 2015.
NLDS now 2-1 Cubs.