The Cubs kicked off the second leg of their road trip Friday night with a 14-6 win over the Washington Nationals. They entered play just a half game ahead of the Brewers for the top spot in the NL Central after dropping two of three games to the Reds earlier this week and the offense hadn’t looked great.
Cole Hamels vs. Max Scherzer certainly made for an intriguing starting pitching matchup, though offense was the story of the game. The Cubs launched six home runs on the night, including three by Kris Bryant. All three of KB’s bombs came in the final three innings of the game.
The final score was lopsided, but it was a really competitive game through seven innings. The Cubs jumped on top 1-0 in the 1st inning thanks to a Javy Báez double that drove in Kyle Schwarber. An Albert Almora Jr. 2nd inning home run made it 3-0.
The Nats answered back in the 3rd inning with an Anthony Rendon homer that cut the Cubs’ lead to 3-2.
Those were the only runs Hamels gave up over his five innings of work, striking out seven and walking three along the way. He escaped a tight spot in the 5th inning when he struck out Michael Taylor with the bases loaded to preserve a one-run lead.
Joe Maddon used a parade of relievers to close out the game, which was a little odd given the score. But it’s hard to find much fault with a high-scoring affair that started with a Hall of Famer on the mound for the Nats. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Following Scherzer’s exit, the Cubs tagged the Nats’ bullpen for 11 runs over the final four innings. That included a five-run 8th inning featuring home runs from Bryant and Schwarber. Willson Contreras also tacked on a bomb in the 9th inning as part of his four-hit night.
Carl Edwards Jr. entered the game in the 7th inning with runners on 2nd and 3rd and the Cubs clinging to a 5-3 lead. Before even throwing a pitch, Edwards was called for a balk, allowing a run to score to make it 5-4. Facing Gerardo Parra, Edwards then unleashed a wild pitch. Brian Dozier broke for home from third, but the ball took a fortuitous bounce off of the wall behind home plate right back to Edwards. Dozier headed back for third with Edwards in pursuit. He was called out for going out of the baseline, ending the inning.
Stats that Matter
- Schwarber homered off of Nats reliever Kyle Barraclough to conclude an epic 13-pitch at bat in the 8th inning.
- Friday was the ninth time that the Nationals Bullpen gave up five or more runs.
- Anthony Rizzo went 1-for-4 in his return to the lineup after missing the entire Reds series due to back tightness.
It may not have been pretty at times, but it was certainly entertaining. After a relatively quiet offensive series against the Reds, it was good to see the bats break out in a big way.
The Cubs take on the Nationals Saturday evening in the second game of the three-game set. Jon Lester will take the mound for the Cubs against Stephen Stasburg, with first pitch scheduled for 6:15pm CT. The game will be televised on FOX with 670 The Score on the radio call.