The Cubs are going to their third-straight NLCS, or the Nationals are winning their first-ever NLDS.
This is it! The final Division Series game of 2017. The Nationals tied things up with the Cubs on Wednesday after Game 4 was initially rained out on Tuesday, and now we’re back in D.C. on Thursday for the finale. It’s Kyle Hendricks vs Gio Gonzalez, Cubs vs. Nats, recent postseason success vs. [file not found].
We’re here to live blog the whole thing starting at 8:08 p.m. ET. As usual, if you want to read from the beginning, scroll down to the “1st inning” header, then work your way back up.
What do ya know, it was quick and painless! This game isn’t done surprising us yet. Just when you expect brutal mistakes or a whirlwind of confusing plays and chaos, it gives you a 1-2-3 inning.
With Nationals closer Sean Doolittle in the game, Jason Heyward and Javy Baez both struck out swinging, and Leonys Martin lined out to end things. Whether the Nationals can actually capitalize on an inning where their opponent didn’t score or get a baserunner, time will tell. (Hint: probably not).
And we are back for the bottom of the ninth. I'm watching on my wife's phone and typing on my phone because Spectrum has an outage. It's not ideal.
Turner, Werth, and Harper are due up for what could be the final three batters of Washington's season. Turner flies out to Martin in center, but Davis is at 33 pitches, and he's not all there.
Davis matches his season-high pitch count on number 34, a long foul ball out of play to Werth. Davis gets him swinging, and now it's all down to Harper to keep the season alive.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are one out away from their third NLCS in a row. And now they're one strike away. Harper works the count to 2-2, and it is tense for everyone.
Harper swings and misses on a nasty breaking ball, and the Nats once again lose in the NLDS. The Cubs go on to meet the Dodgers in the NLCS, which begins on Saturday.
Willson Contreras stepped on Ryan Zimmerman’s foot even though Zimmerman was standing on the edge of the bag, leaving the rest of it to Contreras. At least Willson apologized right after doing it, while still running through the base.
“We have seen some weird stuff tonight here, brother,” says Ernie Johnson after the Cubs make the third out, which of course couldn’t just be a regular strikeout, but was a ball that hit the backstop and bounced back to the catcher.
Daniel Murphy walks, so now Rendon is up as the potential tying run. Davis has thrown just 10 pitches so far, thanks to getting that first out last inning so quickly, but with no one warming in the Chicago bullpen it sure seems like that figure is going to climb and climb.
Unless, you know, Maddon wants to put John Lackey into the game.
So... Davis walks Rendon, and is at 16 pitches without his control, and Joe Maddon keeps looking at his scorecard hoping the names left on it will change. Adam Lind grounds into a double play which sends Murphy to third but puts the Cubs only one out away from getting out of the inning.
If you’ve been paying attention, a lot of stuff has been happening with two outs in an inning so there’s a chance that this doesn’t quite work out for the Cubs.
And shocker, it doesn’t work out for the Cubs. Michael A. Taylor, RBI overachiever, singles to center and Murphy scores to get Washington within one run. Jose Lobaton also singles, so there’s people on first and second. At some point amidst all of that, home plate umpire Jerry Lane got hit right in the face mask with a 90 mph fastball and was clearly shaken. He stayed in the game though, and even gave Willson Contreras guff for not stopping that ball.
Umpire pops Contreras on the jaw to let him know how it feels pic.twitter.com/UDfrUMTFRJ— That Dude (@cjzer0) October 13, 2017
During Trea Turner’s at-bat, Davis attemped to pick Lobaton off at first and at first it looked like he failed because Lobaton was back at the bag but Maddon challenged the call and a replay showed that he came off the bag while the tag was being applied so he was out. With the Cubs clinging to a 9-8 lead, the ninth looms.
It will either be completely painless and quick, or a never ending labyrinth of chaos. Complete toss up.
Baez bunts, and is tagged out via a soft collision down the first base line. Kintzler is still in for the Nationals.
Kyle Schwarber just hit a baseball so hard that even though it hit the wall with a sound the cameras could pick up and left a dent where it hit, he was left with just a single. Schwarber made up for it, though, going first-to-third on a single by Jay, leading to a double switch by the Nats.
The Cubs push a run across the plate to make it 9-6, but there is a video review here, as Jon Jay’s slide earned a second look to see if it was safe or not. The slide remains allowed, everything is fine, so long as you’re rooting for Chicago.
The Nats are down by three runs again as they come up to the plate. It’s Turner, Werth, and Harper this inning.
Only one of the segments of this tweet are from me. The rest was really Ron Darling last half-inning. See if you can figure out which one is the fake!
Ron Darling: Rusty Baker is too old to even go out and argue about that slide. His son calls me dad now.— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) October 13, 2017
Carl Edwards Jr. is in, and he has not had a good postseason. Really, a bad postseason would be an improvement: he has a 19.29 NLDS ERA coming into this game.
So... Edwards walks Michael Taylor, and Maddon immediately comes out of the dugout to make a double switch. Good seeing you, Carl. Here comes starting pitcher Jose Quintana.
Quintana, who started Game 3, has very little experience in relief in the majors, as he hasn’t done anything besides start outside of a few appearances back in his rookie season of 2011. The minors were a different story, but that was very long ago, and Quintana was a different pitcher back then, too. Quintana will start things off by facing Lobaton, who came in last inning as part of the Nats’ double switch.
Hey, the Nats are still alive here, with Turner hitting a single to right. Jayson Werth is up, representing the tying run, with Harper on deck. And Jayson Werth, as he’s done so many times in his career, works a walk. The bases are now loaded for Bryce Harper, who with one swing of the bat could put the Nationals ahead here in the seventh.
Harper takes strike one — he’s going to be looking for the perfect pitch here, and Quintana might have to make it given the bases are loaded. Harper puts a ride into the second pitch, but Jay is there to catch it: he does drive in a run, however, so it’s 9-7, and Zimmerman is now up with two runners still on.
So. Maddon is now taking Quintana out of the game to bring in closer Wade Davis... for, presumably, a seven-out save. This was another double switch, so Jon Jay is out of the game, replaced by Leonys Martin.
The first out of the seven-out save is a success, as Zimmerman makes an ugly out.
The sixth can’t possibly be worse for the Nats than the fifth was, right?
Brandon Kintzler is on in relief of Scherzer, and he retires the first two Cubs he faces. Zobrist is still in the game, and he’ll try to keep this from being a 1-2-3 frame.
I looked away for like 15 seconds and Zobrist was crossing the plate after Jayson Werth missed a sliding catch in the outfield. 8-4, Cubs. Once again, Jason Heyward is here to make an out to save the Nationals. He’s only one guy, though, Washington. You need a broader plan than this one.
It feels like this game is nearly over, but no, it’s the bottom of the sixth, and it’s 10:53 p.m. ET as of this writing. The game began nearly three hours ago. There are two outs after consecutive groundouts, by the way. It’s getting later for the Nats with every at-bat, at least.
Also, in case that fifth inning wasn’t horrific enough for the Nationals, much of what went down might have happened because of an umpiring mistake.
Good news! Bryce Harper hit a double that took a weird hop. Bad news: Jayson Werth somehow didn’t score even though there were two outs and he should have just been going going going. The Nats have something going now, though, against Mike Montgomery, who I forgot to tell you earlier is in the game now.
Zimmerman has already hit a big homer against Montgomery in this series, and it’s a pretty good time for another.
Zim thought he walked on a 3-1 pitch, but nope, it was strike two, even if the call was delayed. That’s always some combination of embarrassing and aggravating for the hitter.
Actual ball four was a lot more productive, as it got away from the Contreras behind the plate and scored Werth. Harper’s at third, too, and suddenly, it’s 8-5 with Daniel Murphy at the plate as the potential tying run.
The Cubs didn’t intentionally walk Murphy to secure the force at any base, likely because Murphy represented said tying run. He went the other way with a fastball low and outside, hit it to the wall, and now it’s 8-6 with two runners in scoring position and Rendon coming to the plate.
Well, there’s the intentional walk to get the force, bringing up Wieters, who immediately hits a ball deep to right field, but into Jason Heyward’s glove. 8-6, Cubs.
I give Heyward a lot of (deserved) crap for his bat these days, but the dude can still make tough catches look easy.
Max Scherzer is here, and it’s not his first relief appearance. He split time between the pen and rotation when he first came up with the D-Backs back in 2008 as a 23-year-old, and in 2011, he also made an appearance out of the bullpen in the postseason for the Tigers... in a Game 5 against the Yankees, which the Tigers won 3-2. And another in the 2013 ALDS against the A’s, but that was a Game 4. No one cares about Game 4 anymore.
Scherzer looks... well, like Scherzer. Two quick outs against Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, and a grounder to short that was hit just far enough away from Trea Turner that it ended up being an infield hit.
Ben Zobrist is pinch-hitting, and against Max Scherzer does not necessarily seem like something anyone would sign up for in that role. Zobrist survived, though, keeping the at-bat alive until he could loop a single into left field.
And then Addison Russell drives in two runs with a ball down the third base line. It’s 5-4 Cubs, despite Max Scherzer being on the mound.
Maybe this isn’t a good time, but it’s possible the Nationals are never going to win an NLDS.
This is the most Nationals thing ever. Strike three got away from Wieters, and then Wieters’ throw to first got away from Zimmerman, which means that Baez was safe at second, and another run came in to score. 6-4, Cubs.
And now there’s a catcher’s interference call for Tommy La Stella, which loads the bases, and Jon Jay is back up once again, meaning the Cubs have a chance to bat around should he reach. See, that’s how this works.
Scherzer hits Jay with a pitch, and now it’s 7-4. Let’s recap.
- Two outs to start the inning
- Intentional walk to Heyward
- Throwing error to first on a strikeout, which was supposed to be the third out
- Catcher interference
- Hit by pitch
- Third out, when Bryant makes his second out of the inning.
Anyway... Hendricks is out, so Brian Duensing comes in to pitch against Daniel Murphy. Murphy walks on four pitches, which is a reminder that as depressing as that half-inning was, there’s still game left for the Nats to catch up.
Duensing then retires Rendon and Wieters, then Maddon calls on Pedro Strop to take on Michael Taylor. Yup, we’ve reached the constant bullpen changes portion of Game 5. He got a strikeout, accompanied by an emphatic and also slightly premature fist pump, and we’re on to the sixth.
Matt Albers has replaced Gio Gonzalez, and probably not a moment too soon. The Nats likely would have preferred if Gio’s spot came up in the lineup last inning, but they couldn’t quite stretch it there, and good on Dusty Baker for not trying to stretch Gonzalez one more frame so he could use a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the frame.
Max Scherzer is stretching and hopping around in the bullpen, looking like someone who is expecting to pitch in relief in this game.
Albers was a crucial part of the Nats’ pen in 2017, striking out over a batter per inning with an ERA of 1.62 in 61 innings. He starts his outing off by getting Baez to ground out, and now he gets to face the pitcher, Hendricks.
In a dugout interview, Baker says it’s unfortunate Albers is going to have to hit, but that’s just how things worked out. The plan is to get two innings out of Albers, which you assume is how the Nats get to a place where they can use only the pitchers they want to be using late in a Game 5, like Scherzer.
Why is Hendricks batting in the bottom of the fourth in a game he’s given up four runs in when we’ve already discussed multiple times that he’s not someone who pitches deep in games? Only Joe Maddon: Superior Tactician* knows.
*he’s not great at that idc idc
Albers gets out of the inning unscathed, and his reward is batting to lead off the bottom half of the frame.
Or not! Dusty Baker changed his mind, and will pinch-hit for Albers here with Victor Robles, and it looks like Max Scherzer is going to come into the game in the fifth.
Robles goes down swinging, and even though Hendricks missed his spot badly to Turner, he swung through a pitch by far too much. And then was fooled by an offspeed pitch to the low, outside part of the zone. Hendricks has seven strikeouts, but as much as Ron Darling is trying to make you forget he’s given up four runs, he’s also given up four runs.
Werth picks up another hit, and now Harper is up with a chance to extend the lead with two down. Harper just hit a ball to center hard enough that Werth had to stay at second, but it’s another hit, and there are two on with Zimmerman now up to bat.
Hendricks might have been pulled by now, but Zimmerman is apparently 0-for-his-life against him, so instead we get a mound conference and a camera shot to a Cubs’ lefty warming up to prepare for Daniel Murphy. That matchup will have to wait until the fifth, though, as Hendricks gets Zimmerman to fly out.
It’s Bryant to lead off the inning, hoping to avoid his seventh strikeout in a row and 11th in the NLDS. Bryant breaks the streak with a double to center, past a diving Michael Taylor.
Mike Maddux is out for his second meeting of the game with Gonzalez, who now has two baserunners on. As great as he’s looked when he’s been on in this game, the Nationals need to have a short, short leash with him in Game 5.
Gio what are you doing? The bases are now loaded with one out, as Gonzalez threw a 3-2 breaking ball low and inside for ball four. Addison Russell grounds out immediately, but it drives a run in. 4-2 Nats, two outs in the inning, two runners still on, both in scoring position.
Matt Albers is warming up in the bullpen in a hurry again. Will Gonzalez get out of this one and sit Albers back down? At some point it feels like he has to actually enter the game with all this warming.
lol the Nationals in the NLDS never ceases to amaze. Gonzalez just threw another ridiculous wild pitch, and it’s now 4-3. Heyward is still up, and there’s still a runner in scoring position, at third. Heyward strikes out, but not until after the damage has already been done. Heyward stranding four is the reason this game isn’t far more upsetting for the Nationals.
The Nats were retired in a hurry in the bottom of the frame, with Murphy striking out on three pitches, Rendon flying out in five, Wieters hitting a single, and then Taylor popping out. The good news: Gio has been lifted for a reliever.
Gio Gonzalez did not have his curve in the first inning, but it seems like he’s got it back now, as he quickly gets two outs. Sure, one of them was Kyle Hendricks, but you take what you can get. I guess this is why Gonzalez could be as bad as he was all season in the first inning — he had a 5.62 ERA in the first inning — but could still finish well, well above-average on the year in ERA.
By the way, Tanner Roark is in the bullpen now. He’s not warming up, but he’s there, meaning he’s available to pitch if needed.
Gonzalez threw some wicked benders in that frame, the last one ending the inning with a strikeout. A 1-2-3 inning is just what he and the Nats needed against the Cubs.
And here’s the other thing the Nats needed against the Cubs: offense against Kyle Hendricks. Daniel Murphy goes deep to leadoff the bottom of the second, and we’re all tied up, 1-1.
Anthony Rendon singles, and Matt Wieters follows it up with a bunt that not only stays fair, but dies before anyone on the Cubs can do something with it. Bunting against the shift is a wonderful thing, and there are now two runners on with no outs.
Yoooo, Michael Taylor had another major homer in him, and it’s now 4-1 Nationals. Remember when I said the Cubs just needed Hendricks to do what he does for five innings and then everything would be fine? Well... he did not do that.
Facing Gio Gonzalez helped Hendricks stop the bleeding, and then he followed that up with a strikeout of Trea Turner, so the wheels haven’t completely come off. He just readjusted a hitter too late.
Jayson Werth makes strong contact once again, and into the gap for a double this time. Bryce Harper up with a runner in scoring position is a good time to pan the camera to Joe Maddon, who is either nervously shifting back-and-forth at this situation, or is waiting for the inning to end so he can go the bathroom.
Apparently that little dance was to call for an intentional walk, and now Ryan Zimmerman is up to bat and NO THEY DID NOT BAT AROUND, ERNIE JOHNSON, BATTING AROUND IS THE 10TH BATTER. And since Zimmerman struck out and Daniel Murphy did not come up a second time this inning, they still did not bat around.
I made a GIF. 10 batters. Jesus christ pic.twitter.com/PKdT4n8KcV— provolonesiya (@Phylan) April 21, 2015
Don’t be like Ernie Johnson. Don’t be wrong about batting around.
Gio Gonzalez in a win-or-go-home NLDS game? Where have I heard that before? Drew Storen better not be in the building anywhere.
I was going to give you some Gio Gonzalez background to get you settled in, but then Jon Jay hit a double basically immediately, so he’s deprived you of that.
Okay, well it’s not officially a double yet because Dusty Baker challenged it even though it’s pretty clear Jay was safe at second, so now we have to wait for the crew in New York to let Baker officially know that. Then we can move on to Kris Bryant.
Oh boy, Gio Gonzalez just threw the ball through the opposite batter’s box, to the backstop, and Jon Jay is at third base with no outs.
Kris Bryant has now struck out five times in a row and seven times in his last eight at-bats. lol no wonder his first name is spelled with a K.
Here’s Anthony Rizzo, who I lack a similarly dumb joke about , but he grounded out instead of striking out, so we’re safe. Less importantly, Rizzo also drove in a run, so it’s 1-0 Cubs already here in the first.
There will come a day where I don’t see Willson Contreras’ name and go, “Oh right, two L’s.” Today is not that day. Contreras whacked a homer off Gio in Game 2, and Gonzalez seems to remember, as he pitched around him a bit. Contreras walks, and the Cubs have a baserunner again. Albert Amora adds a single that sends Contreras to third, so, I gotta say, professionally speaking, I’m not sure Gio Gonzalez is the answer here in Game 5.
Just to further emphasize my point, Gonzalez then walked Addison Russell, and he now has to face Jason Heyward with the bases loaded. Heyward isn’t what he used to be, but Gio doesn’t seem to be, either. Luckily for the Nats, Heyward’s disappointment is weighing his team down more, and he grounded out softly to first to end the inning and the threat.
Here’s Kyle Hendricks, who does not pitch deep into games, but given this is a Game 5 situation and the bullpens will be up at the first sign of trouble, that barely matters today: so long as Hendricks does the thing he can do for five or so innings at a time, the Cubs should be in a good place.
Javier Baez maybe should have left that grounder up the middle for Addison Russell instead, but honestly it barely matters because Trea Turner is too fast for either of them to have made the play at first. The Nats have a baserunner out of the gate, with Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman due up.
ahahah Trea Turner is so fast, he was two-thirds of the way to second base before Contreras even made a throw.
Almora makes a sliding catch in center that was cooler than it was necessary — but given it’s coolness it was totally necessary, you know? — but it gets Turner to third with ease, because again: Turner is fast.
There are baseballs even Trea Turner cannot outrun, however, as he’s cut down at the plate with Baez playing in at second, right where Bryce Harper’s ground happened to go. Baez’s arm vs. Turner’s legs is a metagame worth paying attention to.
The Nats did not score, which has been a theme of this series. For the Cubs, too, really.