Cubs take 2–1 edge in NLDS classic
That was a game for the ages.
This whole series has been, if we’re being honest.
Two days after a massive 8th inning comeback by the Nationals, the Cubs and Nats delivered us another classic at Wrigley field in Game 3 of the 2017 NLDS.
With Max Scherzer and Jose Quintana toeing the bump for the two squads, you knew it would be a low scoring affair. And the two aces did not disappoint.
The duo put up zero after zero against two, star studded lineups. The best scoring chance for either side in the first half of the game came in the top of the 3rd thanks to a couple of Cub blunders.
Michael Taylor started off the inning for the Nationals with a leadoff single. With the pitcher up, Quintana was looking to keep Taylor close to the bag, but overthrew Rizzo on a pickoff attempt. As a result Taylor moved up 90 feet to second. After retiring Scherzer and Turner, the always dangerous Harper stepped to the dish.
Quintana was able to induce a softly hit ground ball out of Harper, but Cubs 2nd baseman Ben Zobrist was unable to field it cleanly allowing Taylor to move up to third while Harper was safe at first. Thankfully Jason Heyward made a nice running catch on a well-struck ball by Anthony Rendon to keep the game scoreless.
On the other side of things, Scherzer clearly did not have his best stuff. His command was off at times and his motion not as smooth on certain pitches given his recently strained hamstring. However, he did enough to keep the Cubs off balance. So much in fact, that he had a no-no going through innings.
The scoreless tie was finally broken when the Cubs made one too many mistakes. With two outs and no one, Cub-killer Daniel Murphy was due up against Jose Quintana. Murphy hit a tailing fly ball down the left field line. Schwarber drifted over towards the line nonchalantly but missed the ball as it hit off the end of his glove. Schwarber then compounded the issue when he booted the ball chasing after it allowing Murphy to advance to third.
Ryan Zimmerman came up clutch again to make the Cubs pay. After a questionable pitching maneuver by Joe Maddon to bring in Strop, the powerful righty drove a bullet into the right-center field gap putting the Nats up 1–0.
After recording the first 19 outs without allowing a base knock, Max Scherzer finally surrendered a hit to the Cubs elder statesman, Ben Zobrist, who redeemed his earlier miscue with a double in the gap.
Dusty Baker then made the difficult decision to pull Scherzer having thrown under 100 pitches and bring in Sammy Solis to face the lefty Schwarber. Maddon then counter-moved by bringing in righty Albert Almora who has been great against southpaws this season.
Almora validated Maddon’s chess move with a HUGE base hit into left to drive in Zobrist with one out in the 7th.
Maddon then tapped Carl Edwards Jr. to extract a little 8th inning redemption. Edwards went 1–2–3 in the 8th against the Nationals top of the order including a strikeout of Harper two nights after he hit the moonshot off of him in Washington.
Pinch-hit extraordinaire Tommy La Stella led off the home half of the 8th with a five pitch walk. He was then pinch ran for by Leonys Martin. After a beautifully executed bunt by Jon Jay the Cubs big boppers were due up.
Brandon Kintzler was able to coax Kris Bryant into a big strikeout with a man on second and one out which brought up Anthony Rizzo. Dusty then brought on Oliver Perez to face Rizzo for a lefty-lefty matchup. Surprisingly, Dusty did not elect to pitch around Rizzo, a risky move. And it did not end well for the Nationals.
On the fist pitch, Rizzo got jammed but was able to muscle it into the outfield where it fell perfectly between three bewildered Nats. The fortunate placement gave the Cubs a 2–1 lead with The Machine, aka Wade Davis, coming on for the 9th.
And on a night where the Cubs committed an astounding 4 errors along with some boneheaded base-running blunders, they were able to escape with a massive win thanks to a 1–2–3 9th by their lock-down closer.
The Cubs now hold a 2–1 series advantage in the best of 5 with the next game taking place tomorrow at Wrigley. Jake Arrieta will look to close the series against Tanner Roark in a must win game for the Nationals to avoid yet another first round exit.