One thing I’m going to enjoy most about the offseason, whenever it starts? No more 8th innings.
With zero runs on the board for the Cubs for the full game, Michael Taylor’s 8th inning grand slam, extending the lead to 5-0, wasn’t the deciding blow in this one, but it sure stung just the same. The air went out of Wrigley as his liner off of Wade Davis found the basket in right, and the uphill climb suddenly looked insurmountable.
The story from this one will probably – justifiably – be Stephen Strasburg’s utter domination of the Cubs in a game he “totally wasn’t going to be healthy enough to start.” And maybe that quote-unquote part is true, but dang if he didn’t look extremely healthy. Whatever the story coming into the game, this was just a guy who looked really good, and baffled Cubs hitters all night. He deserves credit even if he was totally healthy.
The Nationals got their first run on an Addison Russell error (which came after the batter, Ryan Zimmerman, sure appeared to strike out on a check swing, but the umpire disagreed), and that was the only run Jake Arrieta gave up in his four innings of work. There were good moments, good pitches, but there were also periods of lost command, and a pretty quick decline in his velocity in the 4th inning. Not sure what to make of the outing, which may have been his last with the Cubs. Let’s very much hope it wasn’t.
In a probably-planned moved after that, Jon Lester came in for the next 3.2 innings, in which he pitched brilliantly (even picking off Zimmerman at first). But in that crushing 8th inning, he gave up a single to Daniel Murphy with two outs, was pulled in favor of Carl Edwards Jr., who could not locate, walked two, threw a wild one to Taylor, and was pulled mid-at-bat. Davis was called upon to try to get out of the mess and could not.
Offensively, the Cubs got nothing going, and frankly looked pretty hopeless at the plate most of the night. The credit there almost entirely goes to Strasburg. (And also to the rain for screwing things up yesterday.)