Blake Treinen appeared to forget how many outs there were in the top of the seventh inning, when he fielded a one-out grounder and hesitated on what could have been a 1-6-3 DP. Treinen got the out at second at least, but it was close, and nothing came of what appeared to be a mental mistake in that inning.
In the eighth, Daniel Murphy made a late throw to second base on a weak grounder to the right side instead of taking the out at first base on a one-out grounder by Jeimer Candelario.
Both Candelario and Javier Baez, who’d singled with one down were safe after the out call at second was reviewed and reversed.
Baez promptly stole third base with Albert Almora, Jr. at the plate, and a squeeze bunt by the Cubs’ center fieldet brought in the second run of the game, putting Chicago up 2-0 in the series opener in Washington, D.C.
Gio Gonzalez gave up a solo home run in the first at bat of the game on Monday night, then held the Cubbies off the board through the sixth.
Treinen tossed a scoreless top of the seventh, but gave up the run in the eighth.
Meanwhile, Cubs’ starter Eddie Butler held the Nationals scoreless through five and the home team was held hitless between Trea Turner’s leadoff single in the third and Matt Wieters’ two-out double in the seventh. [ed. note - “And Turner was picked off of first base after that single.”]
Brian Goodwin kept the Nationals’ eighth alive with two-out single off Koji Uehara, and left-hander Brian Duensing gave up an infield single by Bryce Harper in the next at bat as the Nats finally created some trouble for the Cubs.
Ryan Zimmerman stepped in against another new pitcher, right-hander Justin Grimm, as the potential go-ahead run, but he sent a groundout to third to end the threat.
In the top of the ninth, Nats’ left-hander Matt Grace threw away a weak roller to the right side of the mound, trying to find a lane for the throw to first but firing it by the bag and into right field.
Anthony Rizzo followed with an RBI single one out later, 3-0, and an errant throw in allowed him to take an extra base as well. Rizzo was thrown out trying to steal third base, but the Cubs added a run when Ian Happ drove Kris Bryant in with a two-out single to right, 4-0, and an RBI double by Javier Baez put Chicago up, 5-0.
All the miscues and errors hurt a little more when the Nationals rallied to score four in the bottom of the ninth inning. Daniel Murphy doubled and scored on a Matt Wieters’ single, as the Nationals avoided being shut out for the 76th game to start the season.
They didn’t stop there, however. Michael A. Taylor hit a double off the out-of-town scoreboard in right, falling just short of a home run, and he and Wieters scored on Stephen Drew’s two-run double, 5-3.
Trea Turner’s walk and Bryce Harper’s two-out single loaded the bases in front of Ryan Zimmerman, and a wild pitch allowed pinch runner Wilmer Difo to score, 5-4.
Zimmerman K’d chasing a pitch out of the zone though, and the Nationals dropped the series opener.
“As long you got outs you got a chance, that’s how I look at it,” Dusty Baker said after the loss.
“Especially with the offense we have, you don’t when and who they’re going to erupt against. The fact that we had action on winning that game, we were a hit away from winning that game, and our guys didn’t quit. It was a great comeback and you never know in the eighth which run is going to beat you.
“It was tough to take and especially when we had a chance to come back. And a chance to come back all the way.”
Baker was asked about the mistakes piling up towards the end of the game as the Cubs built up a lead.
“They don’t build off each other,” Baker said of the miscues, “they just sort of — things happen in streaks, just like you score runs in streaks, walks come in streaks generally, home runs come in streaks, poor plays come in streaks as well, cause guys are trying to do too much and like I said, that was a tough game to lose.”
Even tougher after the late rally, though the Nats’ skipper saw positives to pull from the four-run ninth.
“Every hitter was battling” Baker said. “We got a big pinch hit from Drew. Harp battled. Murph started it off. Michael Taylor hit one off the wall. And all our guys — Wieters got a big hit — and so all our guys, nobody wanted to make the last out.”
“We did make a couple plays that cost us some runs,” Baker continued.
“We’ve got to tighten up our defense like I told you the other day, because making an error or two a game is not going to really get it.
“And so we’ve just got to tighten everything up.”