For a while, it really did look like the Chicago Cubs might squeak one out against the red-hot Washington Nationals. They fell behind three times and managed to come back and tie it up three times, pushing the game into extras with a chance for a walk-off win. In the end, the Nationals’ bats proved to be too much for the Northsiders, who lost the game while getting swept for the first time this season at Wrigley Field.
Both starting pitchers failed to figure in the outcome despite being pretty good. Cole Hamels went five innings for the Cubs, and Stephen Strasburg went six. Both pitchers gave up just two earned runs.
With both starters out the game, and the score knotted at two runs apiece, the Nats went to work in the top of the 7th. Cubs’ reliever, Rowan Wick, managed to get two outs in the inning but he loaded the bases after two walks and a single, getting pulled in favor of Kyle Ryan. Two singles later the Nats had taken a 5-2 lead.
Victor Caratini hit a moonshot homer to right field in the bottom of the 7th to cut the deficit to two runs. After Brandon Kintzler worked a quick top of the 8th, with Javy Baez on base, Kyle Schwarber hit a towering shot off a 2-0 fastball to tie the game at five runs each. Tie ball game, new life.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, they exhausted all of their usual go-to late-inning relievers earlier in the contest. That meant Tyler Chatwood, who’d pitched in each of the previous two games, was forced to take the mound in the top of the 11th.
Chatwood gave up two quick hits. With runners on second and third, he then spiked a fastball well in front of home plate, allowing one run to score. Another single would plate the final run for the Nationals. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Lost
Despite clawing back a couple times in this one, the Cubs simply could not silence the Nationals’ hot bats. The Nats kept putting balls in play and putting pressure on the Cubs’ pitchers and defense, just as they did all weekend long.
It could have been the huge Schwarber bomb in the bottom of the 8th, but it turned out to be an uncorked 55-foot fastball in the top of the 11th that busted out of Tyler Chatwood’s right hand allowing the lead run to score.
Stats that Matter
- Hamels threw 97 pitches to get through 5+ innings, but kept the Cubs in the game, giving up only two earned runs on seven hits.
- Rowan Wick’s ERA went from 2.21 to 3.43 after giving up two walks, a hit, and three runs while only getting two outs. It was one of his worst performances since joining the big league club.
- Schwarber’s blast in the 8th was his 30th of the season, the same number he hit in 2017. His next big fly will be a career high.
- The Nationals came in hot and didn’t relent, outscoring the Cubs 23-10 in the series.
No crying over spilt milk or swept series, the Nationals were red-hot and showed why. The Cubs will have to flip the script to find a way to beat some really good pitchers in New York in their next series.
After a day off on Monday, the Cubs head to the Big Apple to take on Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom. The Mets are 27-13 in the second half, although they just got swept by the NL East leading Braves. Yu Darvish will get the ball for the Cubs on Tuesday against Stroman. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Chicago at 6:10 CT and you can listen on 670 The Score.