Intensity Rises into the 12th Inning, but Cubs Fall to Nationals in Dramatic Fashion, 5-4

My blood pressure spiked around 5:30 CDT time, then the game went into extra innings. Then it spiked some more, before plunging back to normal as Jason Werth’s double in the bottom of the 12th soared over Albert Almora Jr.’s head, winning the game for the Washington Nationals (41-25) by the score of 5-4 (Box Score).

A game that had solid pitching and only four runners left on base for eight innings, turned into a full blown circus as the Chicago Cubs (44-20) and Nationals exchanged runs in the ninth and twelfth innings on Wednesday afternoon. It culminated into one of the more intense games we may see all season.

Starting pitching was as advertised; Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.26 ERA) threw seven innings of 1-run ball while fanning four, while Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 2.90 ERA) threw seven innings as well, fanning eight. Both surrendered one earned run.

This game meant a lot to the top two teams in the National League, and it showed.

Ben Zobrist hit leadoff today, as Dexter Fowler got the day off. In his first at-bat Ben proceeded to hit the pitch straight into the right field seats, giving the Cubs the early 1-0 advantage.

A strange scoring play would give the home team a run right back, after Jason Hammel’s 0-2 fastball squirted over Miguel Montero’s head, scoring Ben Revere.

The game would ring quiet until Stephen Drew stepped to the plate for the Nationals in the bottom of the 8th and served a 2-0 Pedro Strop offering over the right field fence.

This series has had some playoff mojo the entire time, and at no point did you think either team would lay down. It would rest solely on who wanted it more.

Drew wouldn’t be out done.

Big Tony Rizzo was having none of it, and in the top of the ninth, he hit a ball off the back wall of the right field bullpen, scoring two, and leaving the Cubs three outs away from a huge series win.

But these damn Nationals, they were pesky, and found a way to scratch a run out against Hector Rondon in the ninth by way of Wilson Ramos’ line drive single, scoring the game tying run with two outs.

Action simmered down for a brief moment, but the tension did not.

The twelfth inning would prove to be an eventful one, led by the young 22-year-old’s Albert Almora and Addison Russell.

Albert’s singled first followed by Russell’s RBI single; a bullet up the middle that sent the Cubs dugout into a frenzy.

There’s no way the Nats could come from behind a third time, could they?

Low and behold, they certainly did.

Travis Wood would yield two walks in the bottom half of the 12th giving way to Adam Warren to face Michael Taylor with Danny Espinosa on second base.

Warren fell behind Taylor, which was the theme of the late innings for the bullpen, and he smacked a line drive past a diving Ben Zobrist at second, plating the tying run. At that point, I kind of knew it was over.

Jason Werth proceeded to drill a ball deep into center field in the next at bat, scoring Taylor and ending the game.

Stats that mattered

  • Before first pitch, Len Kasper, the Cubs savvy broadcaster said that the club had only lost three games in which they scored first this season, while winning 25 of those 28 games in which they’ve drawn first blood.
  • The bullpen continues to be so-so. It’s really just the walks that I can’t deal with. Four total in three innings tonight, and two of them came around to score. It’s nitpicking stuff, but it dictates wins and loses.
  • Albert Almora Jr. had two knocks, and is hitting .353 in his first week of big league ball, and has been asked to do a little bit of everything. We’ve seen the defense, the leadership skills, the overall make up that this kid has, and the bat.

Bottom line

These games take months off your life, but as a baseball lifer, this is why I enjoy it so much. The grit, the uncertainty, the tension – it’s insanely fulfilling. Losing sucks, but you want to see your guys in these positions. They aren’t in them much, and to see how we battled over and over and over was just incredible. The Nationals are a hell of team full of veteran players as well as young talent,  so you’ve gotta tip your cap. This was one of the more competitive games we’ve played all season, and the Cubs should have no shame in losing it.

Next up

We get to cool our jets, thank god. The Pirates are coming to town on Friday, and Jake (10-1, 1.86) will face Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.92). The Buccos (33-32) have been scuffling, and sit 11.5 games behind the Cubs right now. Tune into MLB Network (out of market only) or ABC 7 at 1:20 CDT for first pitch.

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