Cubs Grind Out Gutsy Win, Sweep Nationals to Win 7th Straight (VIDEO)
The Chicago Cubs (24-6) took four hours and fifty-four minutes to get the win today and it was worth every second. They had to scratch and claw to get another big win and sweep the Nationals. In the end, the Cubs find a way to grind out a gutsy, blue-collar win today in 13 innings by the score of 4-3 (Box Score).
A week to remember
This has been a fantastic week for the entire team and Cubs’ fans couldn’t have asked for more. First, the Cubs sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates, the second place team in their division, and then come home to sweep the second best team in the league, the Washington Nationals. If the pundits had any question about how good this team is, that chapter has been closed. The Cubs dominate and complete an impressive week winning seven straight games by out-scoring their opponents 45-21.
Both teams had plenty of scoring chances in the game today. Combined the teams were an incredible 3-35 with runners in scoring position and left 34 runners on base, with the Nationals leading the way leaving 21 men on base.
While neither team could capitalize much today there were still plenty of key plays that helped the Cubs pull this one out. The first big play for the Cubs happened when Ben Zobrist scored the game’s first run. He got on base due to a throwing error by Nats second baseman, Daniel Murphy, who I’d say owed the Cubs one anyway. Ben ended up on third base with two outs and scored on a wild pitch by Tanner Roark. A big break to get the Cubs first run on the board.
In bottom of the seventh inning Kris Bryant came up to bat with runners on second and third and one out. He delivered a single just to the right of second base that would’ve likely been an out if not for the Nationals shifting the infield to Bryant’s pull side. His single scored both Cahill and Fowler, who reached on a single and HBP, respectively, and that was good enough to tie it up at three a piece.
Long road home
It was a battle to the end in this one. The Cubs and Nationals took a 3-3 tie into extra innings. The Cubs had a couple of chances to win early in the extra frames. The first chance came when they had runners on first and second base with one out in the bottom of the tenth but couldn’t convert after Hammel struck out and Baez hit a fly-out.
Things got really exciting in the bottom of the 11th when, after a Heyward single, Kris Bryant laced a shot to center field. The ball landed deep in the outfield and Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor quickly grabbed to ball and threw the relay to Nationals’ shortstop Danny Espinosa, who made a perfect throw home to throw out a diving Jason Heyward (mlb.com video).
Things got tight for the Cubs in the top of the 12th inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, after an intentional walk to Bryce Harper, who had seven plate appearances and no official at-bats due to six walks and one HBP, Ryan Zimmerman tapped a soft dribbler to Javier Baez. Baez charged the ball, made a great pick up and narrowly threw out Zimmerman at first to end the inning and the scoring threat.
Watching the game you could just tell that it was going to have a thrilling finish to it. And in the bottom of the thirteenth inning, after a Travis Wood strikeout, Javier Baez, who saved the game for the Cubs in the top of the 12th inning, came up to bat. On a 2-2 pitch, Javier swung and the moment the bat hit the ball you knew it was gone. An incredible roar rose from the crowd as the ball flew over the left center field wall.
4-game sweep? @javy23baez made sure of that. https://t.co/JDAUqBJQ5v #Walkoff pic.twitter.com/ishHakLNbx
— MLB (@MLB) May 8, 2016
It was an incredible win for the Cubs.
Jake Arrieta did what he had to do, on a day where he clearly didn’t have his best stuff, to keep the Cubs in the game until he departed after five innings. He threw 100 pitches giving up three runs on six hits and four walks while striking out seven over 100 pitches.
After Jake left the game, the bullpen played a huge roll in the win. They held the Nationals scoreless over the final eight innings. Trevor Cahill pitched a critical three innings, coming in to relieve Jake. Adam Warren and Justin Grimm each pitched two scoreless innings. Travis Wood pitched the final inning to shut the Nationals down.
By now, everyone has heard about some interesting, crazy, long-standing record these Cubs have broken. With this win the Cubs become the tenth team in history to win at least 24 of their first 30 games and first since the 1984 Tigers (26-4).
At 24-6, @Cubs are 10th @MLB team ever to win at least 24 of first 30 games and first since 1984 Tigers (26-4). pic.twitter.com/QTx1YpnKbT
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) May 8, 2016
The Cubs bounce right back tomorrow to take on the San Diego Padres at 7:05 PM CDT at Wrigley Field. Jon Lester will pitch for the Cubs, who will be looking for Lester to go deep in the game and hopefully give the bullpen a rest.