Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg had never won a post-season game in what’s been a stellar career, but unfortunately for the Cubs, the combination of seven innings of shutout ball from the pitcher combined with a grand slam home run gave him his first playoff victory.
The Nationals’ 5-0 win at Wrigley Field puts the National League Division Series tied at two games apiece, and means the Cubs must win on the road in Washington or see their post-season hopes for a repeat World Series Championship ended.
The game shaped up as a pitcher’s duel early thanks to winds blowing in from the outfield and wet conditions. Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta only gave up one run in part because of an error by shortstop Addison Russell. Arrieta, however, did have issues with command, walking five batters in four innings, forcing the Cubs’ to remove him because of his high pitch count.
By contrast, Strasburg, who was almost scratched as the starter because of a bout with the flu, was nearly un-hittable, giving up just three hits and two walks over seven innings while striking out 12.
Arrieta was relieved by Cubs’ starter Jon Lester, who kept the Cubs in the game with nearly four scoreless innings. But when he was pulled in the eighth inning, the Nationals’ bats exploded on relievers Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis, with Davis giving up a grand slam home run to Nationals’ Center Fielder Michael Taylor, the team’s first grand-slam home run in the post-season ever.
Game 5 will be played Thursday night at 6pm CT in Washington. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs against either Tanner Roark or Gio Gonzalez for the Nationals.