Cubs Hold Off Nationals in Opener

Joe Maddon has got to be in the head of Ryan Zimmerman. Last year Maddon walked Bryce Harper six times in a game to face Zimmerman who struck out in a number of those at bats. With the tying run on third and the winning run on second and first base open after a wild pitch scored a run, Maddon chose to pitch to Zimmerman rather than walk him to face Murphy. Zimmerman struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt and the Cubs held on to win 5-4.

Gio Gonzales had a strong outing. Wilson Contreras was a surprise selection for the leadoff spot and Maddon looked like a genius when he sent the fourth pitch from Gio into the left field bleachers. It was the last run Gio would give up in his six innings of work. A high pitch count triggered by eight whiffs and four walks led to his early departure.

The Nationals had trouble scoring off Cubs starter Eddie Butler. He worked five innings and did not allow a National to reach third. With runners on first and second and two out in the top of the sixth the Cubs chose to pinch hit for him. Addison Russell struck out to end the inning.

The Nationals could not get to the Cubs bullpen until the ninth inning. The Cubs were able to take advantage of a Nationals fielding miscue in the eighth to score a second run. Javier Baez hit a one out single off Blake Treinen. Jeimer Candelario grounded a ball to Murphy who chose to throw to second. Javier Baez beat the throw, with a video replay reversing the umpire’s initial out call. Baez stole third and scored on a bunt single by Albert Almora junior.

The Nationals had an opportunity to score in the bottom frame. Brian Goodwin and Bryce Harper hit back to back two out singles. Maddon chose to have Justin Grimm face Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman hit a weak grounder to third to keep the Nationals scoreless.

Matt Grace came on to pitch the ninth. Tommy Lastella topped a slow roller down the first base line. Grace pounced on the ball, whirled around to throw it, but fired it on the inside part of the bag. The ball ended up in right field and La Stella stopped at second. Anthony Rizzo beat the Nationals shift with a slow roller to the left side that trickled into left field. Brian Goodwin charged the ball, fired the ball home but six feet over the head of the catcher, hitting high off the netting of the back stop. Bryant was intentionally walked. Rizzo was thrown out at third on a double steal. Ian Happ singled to right. Bryce Harper appeared to have a play on Bryant racing home but chose to throw to second. Javier Baez finished the scoring by lacing a double into the right centerfield gap off Matt Albers.

Down 5-0 the escape to the Metro had begun. Daniel Murphy gave the few faithful sticking the game out some hope leading off the inning with a double. A single into right field by Matt Wieters scored the Nationals first run, averting their first shutout of the year. Wade Davis replaced Hector Rondon on the mound. Michael Taylor doubled off the right centerfield wall. Stephen Drew doubled down the right field line to score two bringing the tying run to the plate. Trea Turner walked and with two outs Bryce Harper singled to load the bases. A wild pitch scored the fourth run and with runners on third and second Mr. used to be clutch struck out to end the game.

Game Notes: Blake Treinen used to be 96 to 97 miles per hour with his fastball up until this week. Now he is hitting triple digits consistently…Javier Baez made two spectacular plays at shortstop filling in for Addison Russell. He made a diving back hand grab on a liner by Bryce Harper in the third and in the eighth he made a sliding catch into the third base fence to take an at bat away from Adam Lind…Wilson Contreras picked Trea Turner off first in the third. He was initially ruled safe but a replay confirmed the Contreras throw beat Turner to the base…Carl Edwards Jr. struck out the side in his one inning performance in the sixth. He hit 97 with his fastball…Blake Treinen had a brain cramp. With a runner on first and one out Rizzo hit one back to him. Blake turned to throw to first, must have heard someone screaming second and made an awkward throw to second to get the out. Fortunately the Cubs did not score, but Blake has a habit of forgetting about baserunners…The Nationals have yet to be shutout this year…The Nationals showed their desperation about the bullpen situation by signing Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league contract. This could end up like the Joe Nathan contract, who was eventually released after not appearing on the major league club. Rodriguez has not seen 90 with his fastball in a couple years and was released by the Detroit Tigers this year, one of the two teams with a bullpen that is worse than the Nationals.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.