When we last left the Chicago Cubs following Wednesday’s butt-ugly loss at rainy Wrigley Field, they looked like a demoralized bunch who would only go through the motions in game five against the Washington Nationals.
But that’s why they play the games.
The Nats were riding high after a dominant performance by flu-stricken ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg and had the Cubbies right where they wanted them as they tried to close out the National League Divisional Series and move on to the LA Dodgers.
But the Cubs struck first for a 1-0 first inning lead but were quickly countered by the Nationals who grabbed a 4-1 lead in the second.
Neither team’s starting pitcher played well in this one and the game quickly turned into a back and forth affair.
Then came the fifth inning.
Washington’s second ace pitcher Max Scherzer came out in relief despite having insufficient rest after Monday’s contest. Scherzer looked to be the answer but a bizarre series of events led to him being chased after the Cubs scored four runs.
The highlight of the inning was a controversial call that will forever live in the hall of postseason woe occupied by Nationals fans. Scherzer struck out hitter Javier Baez to ostensibly end the inning yet catcher Matt Wieters missed the ball which rolled to the backstop, allowing a run to score.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 13, 2017
The problem is that Baez’s swing continued until it hit Wieters in the headgear which should have triggered a rule that would have nullified the passed ball and resulted in a strike. Inning over!
Scherzer then melted down and the Cubs escaped from the fifth with a 6-4 lead.
The teams traded more runs until another key moment in the game. Nationals baserunner Jose Lobaton was called safe in the eighth as he made it first but a Cubs challenge led to a reversal of the call and the end of the Nationals title dreams.
It was a really crazy game, hardly what could have been expected following the dominant performance by Strasburg in Chicago and there will likely be more than a fair bit of second guessing as to whether Nats Manager Dusty Baker blew it by not saving Strasburg for the fifth game.
The Cubs advance to the NLCS and will play the Los Angeles Dodgers for a trip to the World Series.
— ESPN (@espn) October 13, 2017
Game one will take place Saturday in Los Angeles at 8 pm ET.