This Is The Way He Wants It: Nationals 5 – Cubs 0 (Series Tied 2-2)

Playoff baseball lends itself to scraping the shit out of every play and decision that happens in a game. Things we’d gloss over in June or July. So there will be a lot of that tonight, if only to distract ourselves until first pitch tomorrow. But there’s a key note to remember when doing that…

THE CUBS DIDN’T SCORE.

And I’m not even sure they’re that much to blame. Stephen Strasburg is that dude for a reason, and he was even better today than he was in Game 1. Except this time, the Nationals didn’t make a mistake behind him. There was only one opening, and he got out of it, and that was pretty much it. We can sit here and bitch about lineups or bullpens or whatever else, but sometimes the other guy is just too good. Today feels like one of those days. Were the Cubs ever realistically going to beat Strasburg twice? Remember, they didn’t have to beat Kershaw twice last year. They didn’t have to beat Kluber twice last year (and they got three chances). They didn’t have to beat Bumgarner twice. Of course, it may work out they have to get two over on Scherzer this series. But maybe not.

Continuing on that, I saw far too much, “JUST LAY OFF THE CHANGE-UP!” If it were that easy, Strasburg wouldn’t be Strasburg. He’s that good, that pitch is that good. When he can locate it either in the zone or just below it, you can pretty much pack up the cats. So now that’s out of the way.

The Cubs also didn’t get much luck today. On another day Zimmerman would have been rung up for the check swing before his grounder that turned into Russell’s error. Russell’s crushed fly ball doesn’t land in the basket, Taylor’s does. Strasburg may well have balked before that, in which case that fly scores Zobrist. Is the game different if it’s 2-0 or even 1-0 Cubs in the 3rd? That’s hard to play out, but you’d like to think so.

So other than that, what is there?

-Jake was basically what Jake has been for a while now. Nearly impossible to hit, but not enough control meaning he’s throwing just too many pitches. Sharpness was always going to be an issue after basically one start in a month. Likely you were only going to get one more inning out of him had things gone well.

-I didn’t like bringing in Lester out of the pen, but I can hardly argue with the results. Still, isn’t that Monty’s job? What is he out there for? Has he already been tossed aside because of one wind-blown homer? Anyway, Lester is obviously the better pitcher and if you wanted multiple innings and he was ready to go, then fine.

-At some point Carl Edwards Jr. is going to be able to extricate himself from the jams he creates. But these days it does feel like if he doesn’t get the first man, it gets dicey. The conditions were horrible, so I don’t want to completely hang him out to dry, but you can’t walk guys out of the pen. Especially Matt Wieters, who has done nothing this series. And on a day like this, you can’t be afraid of what they might do against your best fastball. I hope Edwards isn’t burned for the rest of what I’m still confident is a long playoff run.

So it all comes down to tomorrow. It’ll either be Gio, the one starter the Cubs have sort of gotten to this series. Scherzer will be lying in wait you have to imagine, so jumping on Gio early is basically imperative. It’ll be Karl for the Cubs, and I’d have Monty or Quintana waiting if things go tits-up just for the platoon stategery. I’m making that a word. Last year, when Kyle had to see a team for the second time in a serious he handcuffed the Dodgers into the 8th and had the Indians under control before Maddon lost his mind.

Nothing is fucked here, Dude.

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