For a game that had as much happen as this one did, I don't know how to adequately describe all of the events, or give a blow-by-blow. It saw the Cubs take an early lead in the first inning, but also disappointingly leave the bases loaded in the top of the first. It also saw Cubs post-season hero, Kyle Hendricks struggle mightily in the second inning, allowing home runs to 2015's foil, Daniel Murphy, and 2017's potential #1 Most Despised, Michael A. Taylor.
It also saw our beloved Cubs gut out the type of victory we, as fans, have seen the Cubs lose on so many occasions.
We all watched it, or will be re-watching it tomorrow (today?), so let's focus on the biggest moments.
Top of the 1st: Jason Heyward grounds out to first base to leave the bases loaded. The Cubs had scored one run, but had a chance to possibly chase Gio Gonzalez early.
Bottom of the 1st: After an infield hit and stolen base, Trea Turner advanced to third on a fly-out. With the Cubs playing in, Bryce Harper hit the ball to Javier Baez at second, who gunned out Turner trying to score.
Bottom of the 2nd: Hendricks gives up two homers, a lead-off homer to Murphy, and a 3-run bomb to Taylor. With nobody out, Hendricks settles down (though the Nats still get a double by Jayson Werth and intentional walk to Harper), and strikes out the side. The four runs aside, Hendricks settles down and holds the Nationals to four runs through four innings of work, giving the Cubs a chance to stay alive.
Top of the 3rd: Cubs load the bases with one out, and start to claw their way back into the game. Addison Russell grounds out to score a run, and Gonzalez uncorks a wild pitch to allow another run. This foreshadowed the ugly play that would plague Washington the rest of the way.
The Whole Freaking top of the 5th: This inning had it all. Max Scherzer, pitching three days after holding the Cubs to one hit in 6 1/3 innings, comes in to pitch for the Nats with a 4-3 lead. Superstars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are retired relatively easily before Willson Contreras beats out an infield single to shortstop. Ben Zobrist singles, and Russell smacks a ball down the third base line. It rattles around in the corner; Contreras and Zobrist both score on the double. Jason Heyward is intentionally walked to get to Javier Baez - and it works...sorta - when Scherzer strikes out Baez. However, catcher Matt Wieters missed the ball, allowing Baez to reach first. On the throw (which was thrown into right field), Russell comes around to score. Wieters argues about possible batter interference after being struck on the backswing by Baez...only to be called for catcher interference on the next batter. His catcher's glove was struck by Tommy La Stella's bat on a foul ball. Naturally, Scherzer hits Jon Jay to extend the Cubs lead to 7-4. Dusty Baker comes out to cry to the umpire about...I don't know...Jay not trying to get out of the way of a ball clearly headed for his leg?
It's at this point that Joe Maddon decides that anyone who has ever pitched for the Chicago Cubs will pitch in this game.
Between innings 5-7, Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop, Charlie Root, Carl Edwards Jr., Pat Perry, Kevin Foster, Jim Bullinger, Jose Quintana, and John Baker throw a portion of an inning. None of them particularly excel, with the possible exception of Duensing, who didn't allow a run in 2/3 innings of work. He would earn the victory despite not finishing the fifth inning. In the meantime, Daniel Murphy gives more reasons for Cubs fans to hate him when he doubles off the left field wall, scoring a run. Matt Wieters further secures himself as the goat (not GOAT) by flying out to end the 6th inning with the bases loaded.
Top of the 6th: Addison Russell doubles (hahaha) to left field when Jayson Werth whiffs on a line drive. Ben Zobrist scores.
Top of the 7th: Kris Bryant grounds into a force out, allowing a run to score. Nationals challenge whether Jon Jay's slide into second was legal, and it was confirmed. Dusty Baker begins crafting his list of excuses for why his team has yet again failed to win in the playoffs.
Bottom of the 7th: Wade Davis is summoned to finish the game with 7 outs to go. EVERYONE panics, and has to really pee, but cannot leave their seats for fear that something ridiculous might still happen. It does, as Willson Contreras picks off Jose Lobaton at first base to end the 8th inning. The Nats had come within one run by this point, and had two men on base.
Somewhere in the 8th inning, an albino-looking man and his 30-something year-old friend show up from the future, and are inserted into the Nationals lineup. Clark the Cub is struck dead on a pitched ball while pinch-hitting for Frank Chance. Members of the 12-Hour Church begin singing a dirge, and a black angel from a local cemetery takes over in left field. It is revealed that Washington D.C. was originally named "Big Inning" (these are obscure references, but this game was REALLY freaking weird).
NOTHING happens in the 9th inning, for the least dramatic ending to the craziest game of the playoffs this year (and that's saying a bit). Davis strikes out some schmo named Harper to end the game, and the Cubs celebrate on the field as Dusty grinds toothpick #84 into the dugout floor.
Now - what the hell did I just watch?
The Cubs will face the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday evening in their third appearance in the NLCS in as many years. And that's something that has never been done before by this team.
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