When the wind is gusting in at Wrigley Field it usually translates into low scoring pitching duels. Today was an exception to that rule. There was never a time in this game when the lead felt comfortable. Until the Cubs put the final run on the board in the eighth inning, the biggest lead was two runs, once by the Nationals when they led 4-2 after the top of the sixth inning, and once by the Cubs when they extended their lead to 7-5 after a thrilling seventh inning.
Cubs fight and win big, 8-5 (Box Score).
Today’s game was the first game of the three played so far in the series that actually felt like a matchup of the two best teams in baseball. The game went back and forth with five lead changes and two ties. There were many occasions where it really looked like the Nationals might prevail but the Cubs fought back over and over.
The Cubs just kept putting on the pressure, even when they trailed.
The Nationals took a 4-2 lead on a Stephen Drew double in the top of the sixth only to have the Cubs come back in the bottom of the sixth with three runs. After an Addison Russell RBI single and Tommy La Stella walk to load the bases, Ryan Kalish, who was recalled from AAA Iowa on Tuesday, hit a two-out, two-run single to put the Cubs up 5-4.
The Nationals managed to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning only to watch the Cubs roar back in the bottom of the seventh inning. With the bases loaded Addison Russell comes through again with a two-out, two-run double to put the Cubs up for good.
It took the Cubs seven pitchers to get through this one. Only Trevor Cahill and Justin Grimm stayed in the bullpen, with each of the Cubs remaining relievers getting in the game.
Jason Hammel lasted five innings giving up three runs on seven hits and four walks. Jason didn’t have his best stuff today, his toughest outing of the year, but he managed to keep the Cubs in what was a close game at the time.
Notable was Pedro Strop coming on in the eighth inning, after a wild seventh, and striking out the side with authority. It was the shut-down inning the Cubs were looking for after scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to take the lead.
Hector Rondon came on to slam the door in the ninth inning to get the save, his sixth of the year.
The Cubs will be looking for the sweep tomorrow as they close out the four-game series against the Nationals. It would be a fantastic way to end what many were expecting to be a much closer series. To stop the Cubs from sweeping the series the Nationals will need to beat the hottest pitcher in baseball, Jake Arrieta. Game time is 1:20 PM CDT.