Chicago Cubs take care of business in opener against the Nationals

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Facing yet another high-profile starting pitcher, the Chicago Cubs hung around long enough to edge out a series-opening win over the Washington Nationals.

When an opponent trots out their studs, things have gone pretty well for the Chicago Cubs lately. In the two week-plus, they’ve won games started by the likes of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Nola, Max Scherzer and, now, Stephen Strasburg.

In a back-and-forth battle at Nationals Park, the Cubs and Nats traded blows early. Kyle Hendricks hung zeroes in the first three frames before running into trouble in the fourth. After Anthony Rendon got Washington on the board with an RBI double, Hendricks hung a pitch to Mark Reynolds, who promptly deposited it into the seats.

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Chicago (83-57) got a run right back in the fifth to tie things up, but the Nationals responded in kind, scoring the go-ahead tally in the bottom of the frame. The score remained 4-3 in favor of Washington until a Willson Contreras fielder’s choice in the top of the eighth.

The bullpen locked down Washington from there, holding the line until the offense scored two more times in the tenth, courtesy of a David Bote RBI double and Taylor Davis single. Jesse Chavez shut the door in the bottom of the frame to preserve the win for Pedro Strop.

Despite winning each of the last two nights, the final frame hasn’t exactly been uneventful in either ballgame. Not having someone like Brandon Morrow to close things out has loomed large – and with his return this year very much in question, October could get very interesting if, indeed, the Cubs prevail and reach the postseason for a fourth consecutive season.

Another Cubs reliever, Justin Wilson, came on in a critical spot late, dispatching of Reynolds and getting out of what looked to be a very good scoring chance for Washington. We talked earlier yesterday about how he’s become just what Chicago had hoped for and deserves a Steve Cishek-style deal this offseason.

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What’s Next?

Chicago continues a weekend series in D.C. on Friday night. Jon Lester (15-5, 3.53) takes the ball for the Cubs opposite right-hander Joe Ross, who makes his 2018 debut.