Chicago Cubs now face a winner-take-all Game 5 scenario on the road
By Jake Misener
A nonexistent Chicago Cubs offense, a dominant start from Stephen Strasburg and a Michael A. Taylor slam allowed the Washington Nationals to take Game 4.
For much of the day Wednesday, Wrigley Field was under gray skies and misting rain. After the Washington Nationals blanked the Chicago Cubs behind a dominant start from Stephen Strasburg, the weather in the area fit the mood of the 42,000-plus fans at the Friendly Confines.
The story of Game 4 begins and ends with the effort put in by Strasburg. On Tuesday night, tales about his illness and reported bullpen sessions dominated national headlines. But by the time the game started, he was locked in and ready to go.
Washington’s stud right-hander turned in seven innings of shutout baseball, striking out 12 in the process. Eleven of those 12 strikeouts came swinging – and his offspeed pitches made Cubs hitters flail all night long.
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Kris Bryant struck out four times on the night and there were really only two instances in the game where Chicago threatened offensively. Ben Zobrist doubled in the early innings and the Cubs went down quietly after attempting to answer back in the eighth.
Apart from that is was all Strasburg – all night.
The deciding offensive blow came in the top of the eighth inning. Jon Lester, who came on in relief of Jake Arrieta to open the fifth, was still on the mound for the Cubs. He recorded two outs before giving way to Carl Edwards Jr. with a man on first.
Edwards promptly walked the next two batters. He threw one pitch – a ball – to Michael A. Taylor before Joe Maddon pulled him mid-at-bat in lieu of closer Wade Davis. After not allowing a grand slam since 2013, the Washington outfielder took Davis deep for a back-breaking bomb to take the 1-0 lead to a 5-0 edge.
After making four errors in Game 3, the Cubs’ defense made two more miscues in Game 4. Chicago managed a mere three hits in the game – striking out a total of 14 times in the game. For much of the series, this offense has been nonexistent. Simple as that.
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Chicago and Washington will decide who earns an NLCS berth in a winner-take-all Game 5 Thursday night in D.C. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and the Nationals’ starter is yet to be announced.