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Nationals, Cubs go to game five in first round

By Kevin Costa

Section: Sports

October 12, 2017

The Washington Nationals avoided elimination in a 5-0 victory against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Game 4 of the MLB first round playoffs on Wednesday. The first round of playoffs is best of five games, and the Nationals win brings its record to 2-2, forcing the Cubs and the Nationals to play Game 5. Stephen Strasburg took credit for the win and for saving Washington’s season. The best pitcher in the league since the all-star break, Strasburg continued his hot streak. He looked to his curveball and changeup to stifle the Cubs’ offense by delivering seven shutout innings and 12 strikeouts, the most in franchise history, according to USAtoday.com.

Off the field, Strasburg delivered a statement to critics who questioned his toughness prior to the game. On Tuesday, Nationals Manager Dusty Baker reported his star pitcher was too sick to start Game 4, according to sports.yahoo.com. This led to some stipulating Strasburg was shrinking from the big stage. Tanner Roark expected to start instead, but the rain delay to Game 4 changed all this. The game was postponed for 20 hours and on Wednesday morning, Strasburg called his pitching coach Mike Maddux and said he was healthy. USAtoday.com reported a comment by Baker: “[Strasberg] seemed, you know, more focused than normal. He just said, ‘I’m feeling a whole lot better’ and ‘I want the ball.’”

On the other side of the ball, Washington came up big. The game was closer than the final score suggests. Holding on to a 1-0 lead due to an error by Chicago’s shortstop Addison Russell, the Nationals loaded the bases in the eighth. The Cubs attempted to get out of the jam by bringing in closer Wade Davis, but to no avail. Michael Taylor hit a grand slam to seal the win and a Game 5.

The teams will square off again on Thursday at Nationals Park. The Cubs will start with Kyle Hendricks, who recorded a win in Game 1. The Nationals will either go with Gio Gonzalez or Tanner Roark. Roark has gone 13-11 this season with an earned run average (ERA) of 4.67, according to mlb.com, while Gonzalez has earned a record of 15-9 this season and an ERA of 2.96. Both teams have a lot riding on Game 5, as The Nationals are looking to win their first postseason series while the Cubs are looking to defend their World Series title.

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