NATS WASTE STRASBURG GEM, LOSE 3-0 TO CUBS!

Dodgers, Astros and Indians win:

https://www.mlb.com/scores

By Sam Bush

Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg’s no-hit bid turned into a devastating 3-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

This was just one game, as the Nats kept reminding everyone, but it’s also a best-of-five series, and now the Nationals have to knock off the defending World Series champions in three of the next four games to survive.

“We just have to keep playing,’’ says Strasburg, who became the first pitcher to strike out 10 batters in just 81 pitches in a postseason game in 19 years, yielding just three hits and two unearned runs in seven innings. “If this was opening day, and we lost our first one, I don’t think we would panic too much. There’s no reason to do it now. We just have to stick together.’’

The Nats have been to these playoffs in four of the last six years, and after blowing a 6-0 lead in Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, they still have yet to win a postseason series.

“We don’t care about the past,’’ Anthony Rendon said. “That was 2016. 2015. 2014. What year is it this year?’’

Yes, but will the outcome be any different?

“That’s why,’’ Nationals All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper says, “we play five.’’

The Nats still have their ace, and likely Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, in Game 3. Gio Gonzalez, who won 15 games with a 2.96 ERA, will pitch Game 2. And Strasburg, who was 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA after the All-Star break, can still come back and pitch Game 4, or at least Game 5.

Still, this is a tough one to overcome, wasting one of the most brilliant postseason pitching performances in Nats’ history.

“He was the best pitcher I’ve [ever] seen probably,’’ Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “He’s Stephen Strasburg for a reason, and he’s an ace for a reason.’’

Strasburg was throwing a mix of 98-mph fastballs, 84-mph curveballs, and 88-mph changeups. He was so dominant that he needed only 52 pitches to get through the fifth inning, generating 11 swings and misses. Why, only four Cubs’ hitters managed to even hit the ball out of the infield through the first five innings.

“First two at-bats,’’ Rizzo says, “made me look silly. The whole lineup looked silly the first couple times through.’’

Then, everything unraveled.

Javier Baez, leading off the sixth inning, hit a routine bouncer to Rendon. He caught it. And dropped it.

“It’s like a car accident,’’ Rendon said. “You don’t hit the car on purpose. So it’s a mistake. It’s part of the game.

“It’s definitely tough because Stras was pitching his tail off.’’

Two batters later, the confrontation of the night occurred: Strasburg vs. Kris Bryant. And Strasburg’s first mistake of note — leaving a 96-mph fastball up in the zone — was cashed in, as Bryant banged a single to left, reaching second base on Harper’s throw home. Rizzo followed with an RBI hit of his own. Just like that, it was 2-0.

And the way Hendricks was pitching, it might as well have been 20-0.

“That,’’ Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, “was the ballgame.’’

The Nats didn’t get a hit after the second inning, managing two in all.

They have been here before, of course. They lost the first game of last year’s playoffs to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and after playing four more one-run games, were sent home. They lost the first game in 2014 to the San Francisco Giants, and then an 18-inning game the following day, and never recovered.

This was the year everything was going to be different.

The Nats are telling everyone that’ll listen it still will be.

“We can still do it,’’ Matt Wieters said, “it just makes it more difficult now. But we can do this.’’

In a city immune to broken campaign promises, pardon folks if they wait a little while before they believe it.

About admin

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply