The Cubs and the Nationals were everything you’d expect from two very good teams. Exceptional pitching performances from both teams tonight. That’s what you’d expect coming into this with two great pitching staffs both ranked near the top of the Majors.
Kyle Hendricks was at his best tonight and clearly the extra time off did him well. He had complete command of the zone all night and allowed only one runner to get into scoring position, a Michael Taylor double in the third inning. Kyle was clean through six innings giving up only two hits, walking two and striking out four.
Cubs win tonight 5-2 and improve to 21-6 on the year (Box Score).
Strange play of the night
It was the bottom of the third inning when Dexter Fowler had issue with a called strike that was up high in the zone. As he was leaving the box, after the inning had ended due to the strikeout, he exchanged a few words with the umpire, Vic Carapazza. It got a little more animated and next thing you know Carapazza ejected Fowler from the game for arguing the pitch. It was a little surprising and felt more like an ump trying to exert himself than it did a solid call. I may be a little biased though, so there’s that too.
Ben Zobrist was responsible for nearly all the Cubs’ runs tonight. He was the clutch player he’s been his entire career and that’s one of the big reasons the Cubs signed him this off season.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Nationals pitcher Joe Ross intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo to load the bases for Ben Zobrist. I have to say, I don’t miss seeing Dusty Baker make those types of managerial moves. To me, it didn’t make a lot of sense. There were no outs, two men on and Zobrist, a lefty, on deck. And Zobrist made him pay with a two-run single.
The game was cruising along after that when, in the bottom of the eighth Ben Zobrist came up with one man on and delivered the knock out blow. A two-run home run that he tore into and over the left center field wall scoring Tommy La Stella.
Addison Russell chipped in later in the eighth inning with a double scoring Ryan Kalish.
Starting pitching was solid, offense got clutch hits when they needed it, the bullpen was good. The only ‘but’ would be when Travis Wood gave up a two-run, two-out home run in the top of the ninth inning. Other than that, this one went exactly how you’d draw it up. The Cubs executed in every facet of the game.
Cubs and Nationals will go at it again tomorrow at Wrigley Field at 1:20 CDT. John Lackey will be pitching for the Cubs against Max Scherzer for the Nationals.