An effort was made (11 innings) -- Nationals 7, Cubs 5

The Washington Nationals completed a sweep of the Chicago Cubs on Sunday afternoon, with the Cubs losing 7-5.

Cubs starter Cole Hamels had a solid first inning. Trea Turner grounded out to short, followed by a ground out to third by Victor Robles. Anthony Rendon singled, but Juan Soto flew out to center and Jason Heyward made an excellent catch against the ivy to get the out.

Shocking no one, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg responded with a 1-2-3 inning. Heyward and Nick Castellanos both struck out and Kris Bryant popped out to end the inning.

The Nats scored in the fourth off of a lead off home run from Rendon. Soto followed with a single, but the inning would end with the score at only 1-0 after a fly out from Asdrubal Cabrera, a strikeout from Kurt Suzuki, and a fly out to left field from Brian Dozier.

Addison Russell got the Cubs on the board at 1-1 in the fifth inning with a two-out solo shot that made it into the outfield basket. Ian Happ walked in the next at-bat, but Hamels struck out for the third out.

Soto led off the top of the sixth with a double, followed by a single from Cabrera. The Cubs then tapped David Phelps to take over for Hamels. Hamels went five innings with seven hits, two runs (both earned), one walk, and three strikeouts. Phelps got Suzuki to ground into a double play, but Soto scored to put the Nationals ahead 2-1.

Heyward led off the bottom of the sixth and was hit by a pitch and Castellanos followed with a single, advancing Heyward to third. Heyward scored on a single from Bryant and the Cubs were now tied at 2-2. Javier Báez struck out swinging, Kyle Schwarber flew out to left, and Jonathan Lucroy struck out swinging to end the inning.

Rowan Wick took over for Phelps in the seventh. He faced Gerardo Parra at leadoff and got him to fly out to center, but pinch-hitter Adam Eaton was walked in the next at-bat. Turner flew out for out two, but Wick was unable to get the third out with Robles at bat. Robles singled on a line drive to right and Eaton advanced to third; Robles stole third with Rendon at the plate. After an eight pitch at-bat, Rendon walked and Kyle Ryan was called to the bump.

Ryan faced Soto, who singled to short, scoring Eaton. Cabrera followed with another RBI single and the Nationals led by 5-2. Brandon Kintzler then took over for Ryan, who got the third out on a swinging strikeout from Suzuki.

The Nationals sent Hunter Strickland to the mound in relief of Strasburg in the bottom of the seventh, and he got a quick first out on a line out to right from Russell. After a ground out from Happ, Victor Caratini (who entered the game defensively in the top of the inning) hit a solo shot to bring the Cubs within two at 5-3.

Kintzler worked a 1-2-3 in the eighth, with ground outs from Dozier, Parra, and a fly out from pinch hitter Matt Adams.

Fernando Rodney pitched for the Nationals in the bottom of the eighth. Castellanos lined out and Bryant popped out to the catcher in foul territory, but Báez walked to keep the inning alive. Schwarber then mashed his 30th home run of the season to tie it at 5-5. Tony Kemp pinch-hit and struck out swinging for the third out.

Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth and walked Turne. Robles bunt popped out to Caratini at catcher, but Rendon followed with a single. Soto then lined out for the second out, and Kimbrel struck out Cabrera to take the Cubs into the bottom of the ninth.

Steve Cishek pitched the top of the 10th and got a ground out from Suzuki, a fly out from Dozier, and a called strikeout from Parra.

The Cubs went quickly in the 10th as well, with a fly out from Castellanos, a swinging strikeout from Bryant, and a fly out from Báez.

Howie Kendrick led off against new Cubs pitcher Tyler Chatwood and singled to left, followed by a double from Turner. Kendrick scored on a wild pitch from Chatwood with Rendon at bat, and Rendon then singled to score Turner. The Nationals had the lead at 7-5.

Unfortunately the Cubs weren’t able to respond in the bottom of the 11th. Schwarber struck out swinging, pinch-hitter David Bote lined out to left, and Russell flew out to right to end the game.

 

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

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  • I'm ready for the offseason to put this collection of nonperformers out of its misery. The team that should be running away with the division is an embarrassment.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Couldn't agree more. Stranger things have happened, but the Cards, Mets and Nats are just playing way better and with purpose. The Cubs haven't played consistently with that kind of fire since 2016.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Our Cubs have 8 players with double digit home run numbers , 4 will probably hit over 30 home runs this season . BUT yet there is only ONE hitting over 300 average . Not good .

  • In reply to Ronald Dietzler:

    Yep. Swing for the fences and play for the home run. What could go wrong?

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yeah, there was inning today with three warning track fly balls. They don’t seem able to play to the conditions.

  • In reply to Ronald Dietzler:

    There are only 12 hitters hitting over .300 in the NL this year. Two of them playing in Colorado. This is the new MLB. HR, walks and strikeouts. Get use to it. All teams are doing it.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    It starts at the top with our lackluster manager! It’s time for a change!

  • 69-61 simply is just not good enough. What is it good for?

    AL East: tied for 3rd place
    AL Central: 3rd place
    AL West: 3rd place
    NL East: 3rd place
    NL Central: 2nd place
    NL West: 2nd place

    We don’t deserve a playoff spot, and I think that will be reflected after game 162.

  • This team teases us with 4 out 5 or 7 out of 10 then go back to their old ways. Lack of leadership and coaching has been pathetic.

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    In reply to AzChris:

    Agreed. This team lacks any kind of swagger, no hitch in their giddy up! Bryant with runners at 1st and 3rd is becoming so predictable...shallow pop up right field fair or foul....sigh.

  • In reply to Scott Tomkiewicz:

    You are right no swagger and it starts with the manager. No emotion we will get them tomorrow attitude. This team needs a kick in the pants from time to time and we have no player that is a natural leader or manager to do that.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    Never understood the swagger issue. If they win they have it , when they lose they don’t? They went something like 26-10 in April and May to come back from their 1-6 start.

    Did they have swagger in the 26-10 streak? If so how did they exhibit it? Who was the leader?

  • In reply to stix:

    Confidence may be better word than swagger. Yes they had it but could not sustain it. Leader? I don't believe this team has any vocal leaders.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    Ok sounds better but how does the confidence come and go? Without leaders it just came for 26-10 streak and then it left?

    Seems to me they are too streaky. I have no idea why it comes and goes. Just frustrates the fans and probably the team. I think to be aMLB player you need confidence in your ability.

    If they lose it they obviously need someone to pick them up or “reinstill” their confidence.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    we have a manager who is a good if not great leader and we have several players who have great potential like Rizzo and Baez. What happened this weekend is a team with power and no speed were up against a team who has both and is not afraid to use them. Both teams have great starting pitchers and questionable bullpens so i guess the difference is speed

  • In reply to AzChris:

    I agree! When we won the World Series, the “real” manager was the team leader named David Ross.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    I believe it was a tandem thing between the two during that season. With out him there is no way they win WS.

    Ross also has something about him, that he not the most talented what ever he is doing he squeezes out every ounce that he can. Great example was how much better he got during his run on Dancing with the Stars. ( after watching every show that season I am happy to never see any of it ever again)

    I think he will make a great manager when his kids get a little older.

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    In reply to Scott Tomkiewicz:

    Bryant was the one who got a hit today with RISP. Singled with runners at first and third.

  • In reply to John Winter:

    The KB narrative is so old and overplayed. I assume the people saying it don’t watch the games. All week people have complained about KB. Well without KB, we probably lose every game we won.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Bryant is not the problem on this team. Bryant is good will he ever be great like Trout? probably not but I think many fans thought he was the next baseball god. He is good and steady and the parts around him are not good enough currently for a Series run.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    Boras will want more than he is worth.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    Bryant is a sabermetrics darling. I’m guessing he’s being dissed on since he isn’t carrying the team the way Yelich does or asJavy did last year. Heck Castro has more RBI this year than Bryant but that’s an old school measurement.

    He doesn’t have much in the old school metrics. Average, HR.RBI so the old school types (me included) think he’s not great but just good.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    Yeah I don’t expect Bryant to ever be as good as Mike Trout. Javy is the one with all the potential to be as good as Trout, yet he refuses to develop offensively. He’s regressed already this season. Many teams know it. It’s no secret how to get him out. And if he’s too stubborn to change his approach, we’ve already seen the best he’ll ever be with a bat.

  • In reply to Scott Tomkiewicz:

    Didn't he actually drove in a run with a single with guys on first and third?

  • Here's a depressing reality--since mid-2017, as our young offensive core was starting to approach its prime years, we have added Quintana, Darvish, Hamels, Kimbrel, and Castellanos (all of whom are contributing this year), have lost very little except some relievers...and are a worse team. The great riddle is how the young position players could have gotten so much worse, especially in terms of mental errors, physical errors, and baserunning mistakes, as they gained experience. The was not the Cubs Way plan.

  • In reply to jeffalson:

    We never came close to replacing Dexter "You go, we go" Fowler.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    You are correct! Schwarber wasn’t the answer at lead off.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Only Javy Baez could replace Dexter as a leadoff man on this team but as long as he thinks he's Babe Ruth and not Ty Cobb we might as well put Kyle back in the leadoff spot. Desperate times call for desperate measures so Javy has got to be the man but not without a heart to heart talk with his manager.

  • In reply to jeffalson:

    All those additions plus Bryant, & Heyward are both playing better this year, when compared to last season. I hope the front office does some house cleaning this offseason. This combination of players has been together long enough, & the team has not improved as you stated.

  • As I said recently, I expect substantive changes throughout the organization this offseason.

    This underachieving bunch has been a disappointment in 2019.

    32 games remaining until the unmet unexpectations can be put to rest and a new chapter can begin.

  • I'm afraid that 3 HR and 14 Ks are not a sustainable model. Plus they are just plain boring to watch, unfortunately.

    Contact goes a long way--the Nats struck out 21 times in the series, compared to 38 Ks for the Cubs.

  • They didn't see the top of the Nats rotation in this series. And they were swept. At home. Enough said.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    Pretty hard for anyone to argue with that statement............

  • StL beat COL for a 4-game sweep. PHI lost to MIA. The Magic Numbers (MN) are now:

    Division: 36
    Playoffs (WC): 32

    The Division MN decreased by only 4 this past week, while the playoff MN decreased by 5. Not good. With a 2.5 game deficit in the division, it could be argued that the Magic Number Countdown could change to an Elimination Number Countdown, but the Cubs are still in the playoffs and have 7 games left against StL. So, since this is as previously stated completely up me, I will keep it as it is. Things can change in a hurry.

    StL starts a 3-game set in MIL tonight, while PHI hosts PIT for a 3-game set.

    Is it too much as a fan to ask for a hot streak, say 8 in a row and 14 of 15?

  • Have always liked Maddon but now he is just like a loaf of bread you bought a week ago....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Maddon doesn’t “build” a team, our young core mostly regressed under his watch. Same thing happened in Tampa Bay when he was manager. He’s been handed great young talent in Tampa and Chicago, squandering it for the most part. We need a real manager that teaches fundamentals.

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    I would love a hot streak, but facing Stroman, Syndergaard, and Degrom in New York is probably not where it will start.

  • I remember when John used to talk about the FO looking for players who controlled the strike zone, but this version of the Cubs are not that. I think the difference between the Nats and Cubs comes down to that. Their hitters swing at strikes and take balls out of the zone. Ours were patient to a point, but over and over again there was that big swing on a 3-2 pitch no where near the strike zone for the killer K. It wasn't just one hitter, it was pretty much 1-8. Zobrist will help some, but until a few of our better hitters start taking those pitches, I don't see the offense becoming more consistent.

  • In reply to Rick Tuesday:

    When I played back in the Dark Ages, it was considered "unmanly" to take a called third strike, and in order to prevent that, we swung at virtually anything and everything when we had a 2-strike count. Better to K with a flail a foot out of the zone than a called 3rd. That, in part, is why I never advanced in baseball.

    Unfortunately, it looks like too many Cubs have adopted my teenage mindset, for what reason I don't know. Schwarber seems to be the only hitter willing to K on a called 3rd, and I dare anybody to call him "unmanly" to his face. Perhaps we should award a bonus for being called out on a 3rd strike--I suspect that it might increase the overall walk rate.

  • I'm not giving up, fellas. We are really missing Contreras' leadership and energy. He'll be back soon. Hopefully, it'll be soon enough. And we really need Javy, who's been struggling the last 3 weeks or so, to catch fire. I"m not sure he will, but we all know he can.

    We're now entering the home stretch. I think it'll be a photo finish with those 7 late Sept. games against the Cards looming large.

    It's gonna be white-knuckle time so buckle up.

    I'm still thinking we got some heroes who are gonna make us happy.

    Let's Go Cubs!

  • In reply to TTP:

    Love the enthusiasm, but Willson (and Ben Zo) were in the lineup when the Cubs gave it up last year. There should be enough talent on the field to get the job done, even with somebody on the IL. Sure, anyone can "catch fire" and we all know about the hottest team in the playoffs, but the Cubs consistently don't take care of their business - and I'm beyond caring why. The fix is to change the roster.

  • It appears we’re limping to the finish line again. This team is very inconsistent. It’s going to be the 3rd consecutive season of this Jekyll and Hyde act. It’s a shame that the prime of some really good players will be wasted. I think we are going to have to on a 20-10 run to win the division or at least 5-2 or 6-1 to overtake STL. I just don’t think we have that in us. And we will not get a wild card, IMO.

    I can’t see how this team is not blown up with 3-4 new position players in ‘20. And who knows what the rotation brings?

  • Patrick Mooney asks: “How confident would you be if this team (Cubs) had to beat Scherzer on the road in a wild-card game on Oct. 1?”

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I read that. The most infuriating part of the article was Joe Maddon talking about all the good things the Nat's hitters do at the plate and how the Cubs need to start doing them. My question there, and here, is WHY aren't the Cubs doing those things? I accept that the FO bears some blame, but isn't Maddon responsible for leading, training and scheduling these players? It's not like the problem cropped up overnight, and Joe is in his 5th year.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    He should spend more time managing rather than doing liquor commercials & being the players buddy.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I’m not sure I blame Joe. I mean I’m sure he’s said , “Javy, why don’t you lay-off that slider off the plate,” a million times. Many other discussions as well. I think it is going to be an interesting offseason. I think there is a good chance the team gets creative. Maybe trade Bryant, for example, and sign Rendon.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    There are many factors and the Cubs problems can't be pinned on one individual, but Joe has to accept responsibility for what he can control. I agree 100% that major changes are coming (or need to happen) before ST 2020. I don't think KB is the biggest issue the team faces, but trading him would bring a major haul and could improve the farm system while bringing another pitcher or position player to the MLB club. I like the idea of signing Rendon, even if KB stays with the team and goes to LF.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    The Cubs need to bring in some players with-I don't know exactly what you call it fire/passion/positive energy... For example a player like Kole Calhoun from the Angels.

    Good MLB teams, get lucky, and find players to outperform their contracts. The Cubs should be trading some veterans every offseason.

    Outside of the stars, I'm not sure many players on the Cubs have much trade value. What could the Cubs even get back for players like Heyward, Darvish, Quintana, or Schwarber? I understand money and no-trade protection factor in.

    If you want to trade Bryant, and/or Rizzo to maximize the potential return you need young players coming back, which means minor leaguers.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I believe Joe is indirectly trying to tell his players to be more like Nats hitters and take pitches, make them throw strikes and learn some patience, when he talks to the media about Nats hitters.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    That's a silly question, of course. No one would be "confident" beating Scherzer on the road in a wild card game. If that game were today, the Nats would be at least a -200 favorite, probably more like -250, which are relatively high odds in playoff baseball. For all the talent and payroll and trade deadline acquisitions, the Cubs are 44-47 over the 91-game stretch since May 14 (and one of the worst road teams in baseball) and we Cub fans just have to accept the fact that this team is, at best, a slightly above average team. If the Cubs somehow make the playoffs, it will not be because we earned it, but because we got lucky that enough other teams played even worse than we did. Simply put, we now have to hope we get lucky. It is hard to believe that this is where we are with so much talent and payroll, but it is what it is.

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    In reply to Cubs09:

    "How confident would I be if the Cubs had to beat Scherzer on the road in a wild card game on Oct. 1?" Coin-flip? Weird stuff can happen in a single game.

    But this would be on the road! Yes, and the Cubs played a game started by Scherzer in May. They won the game 14-6. Does that mean they'd win? Not necessarily. Nor does any other evaluation mean they would/wouldn't win a single game taking place 5 weeks from now.

  • At the All-Star Break, the Cubs had a +55 run differential and the Cardinals were at +2. The Cubs were 2 games ahead of St. Louis at that point as well. Now, the Cardinals are not only 2.5 games up, they've improved to +53 while the Cubs are at +61. Oh yeah, the Nationals were at +29 at the break and now they're +107.

    I was at the game yesterday for my birthday (officially over the hill now) and while it was quite a game (I'd never been to an extra inning game before) this Cubs team doesn't seem to have whatever intangible the Cardinals/Nationals/Dodgers/Braves have (right now, it seems likely that those will be the NL playoff teams) There's still enough time to turn it around, but a September like last year will result in an early locker cleanout.

  • In reply to JTWilson:

    Extra innings....as a kid I sold snow-cones at the local ballpark. Typically fans would quit buying stuff after the 7th, but I still had to parade through the stands until game end. Once I was treated to a 19-inning affair, traipsing through the park with melting snow-cones for 3 hours with no sales, and from that point on I have loathed extra-innings.

  • Bingo! Joe knows the problem. He says he has addressed it since spring training... the need to spray the ball around, a better 2 strike approach and yet except for a 3 week stretch in April - May they have failed to do just that.

    Maybe it isn't fair to put this on the Manager, but if the players aren't listening to Maddon then one of two thing s have to happen. Get a Manger that the players will listen to or get different players.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    I predict both will happen this offseason.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    This team was built to hit homers not spray the ball. Epstein felt this was a new era in baseball with the long ball taking center stage, launch angles of utmost importance and live baseballs. That may be the case, but our hitters just don’t make enough contact to support his philosophy.

  • Our bullpen has lost numerous games late, that were ours to win. Strop and CJ coughed up leads almost automatically. We were expecting better. There were other issues, but a team can't give back too many hard fought wins.

    There were plenty of others issues as well. This team just is not that good. Theo made good additions on in season acquisitions. It helped, but wasn't enough. I agree with Cliff, a new voice and a 'bunch' of better, or at least more motivated players is needed.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    For the record CJ had 2 blown saves. Hardly enough to doom the team.

    Cubs had at least 12 games losses after having the lead after 7 innings. Win half of those games and the cubs are comfortably in first. Every game matters.

    Maybe having won in 2016 has made the team too comfortable.

  • In reply to stix:

    Blown holds count too, but the pen hurt us in the first half and still has trouble putting hitters away. They do battle though, but they can't or don't go right after hitters.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Not sure I ever heard of a blown hold. I thought a blown hold turns into a blown save..

    Not much power in the pen besides Kimbrel. I marveled at the lack of swing and miss ability of the pen yesterday. Got more called than swinging strikes.

  • In reply to stix:

    I guess. Point being often the loss comes before the last three outs.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Cubs never led in Nats series. Except game 3 the lead the games were lost long before the last inning.

  • Theo believed our team would score many runs, and built a ‘just good enough’ bullpen to support what he thought would be many high scoring games from this lineup. Our team never developed into a run scoring machine the computers told Theo he would have.

  • Cardinals way ahead. 3 games out.
    The June swoon in August.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    Cardinals are definitely hot. But they won’t stay this hot (I hope). I’m calling it here. Cubs go 21-11 to finish the season. 90-72 wins the division by a game over Cardinals.
    And then the winner of the Cards/Nats WC game beats the Dodgers in 5. I’m not sure the Cubs can beat the Braves but the winner of that series goes the the World Series
    I know I’m probably crazy but I’m going with it
    “I've listened to preachers, I've listened to fools
    I've watched all the dropouts who make their own rules”

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