Associated Press Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks, left, is greeted by teammates in the dugout after the seventh inning of Game 1 of the National League Division Series in Washington.
Saturday, October 07, 2017 1:00 am
Chicago 3 Washington 0
Cubs best Strasburg, win Game 1
HOWARD FENDRICH | Associated Press
Chicago vs. Washington
What: Game 2
When: 5:38 p.m. today
Where: Nationals Park, Washington
Series: Cubs lead 1-0
WASHINGTON – Kyle Hendricks outpitched Stephen Strasburg, and the Chicago Cubs opened defense of their first World Series title in 108 years by beating the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Friday in Game 1 of their NL Division Series.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo produced RBI singles in the sixth inning for the first two hits off an otherwise-dominant Strasburg. Hendricks was even better, giving up only two singles in seven strong innings.
Rizzo added an RBI double off reliever Ryan Madson in the eighth. Carl Edwards Jr. threw a perfect inning and Wade Davis finished the two-hitter for a save.
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is today, with Jon Lester set to start for Chicago against fellow left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
Strasburg didn't give up a hit until there were two outs in the sixth. Javier Baez reached on third baseman Anthony Rendon's error to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Hendricks. One out later, Bryant drove in the first run with a single to right-center and went to second when Bryce Harper missed the cutoff man.
The next batter, Rizzo, singled to right in front of a diving Harper to make it 2-0.
With a heavy beard and a lot of sweat on a muggy, 77-degree night, Strasburg dialed up his fastball to 97 mph and occasionally used an unhittable changeup.
To cheers of “Let's go, Strasburg!” from many in a sellout crowd of 43,898, he held the Cubs without a hit for 52/3 innings and wound up with 10 strikeouts, a playoff record for the Expos-Nationals franchise.
In only his second postseason appearance – remember the shutdown of 2012 and the arm injury of 2016? – the righty showed precisely the sort of power and poise that made him the No. 1 pick in baseball's amateur draft. Until, that is, the sixth inning. That's when everything changed in a matter of minutes.
Strasburg wound up allowing those two unearned runs in seven innings, with three hits and one walk.
Hendricks went about things differently – his best fastball is about 10 mph slower than Strasburg's – but was every bit as good.
Hendricks, who led the NL in ERA last season, did not give up a hit after the second inning. He walked three batters and struck out six.
In the Washington ninth, Ryan Zimmerman was called out when catcher Willson Contreras' throw hit the player in the back as he ran to first on a dropped third strike.
While the Cubs are no longer the “Lovable Losers” after last year's championship, the Nationals were the NL East champions for the fourth time in six seasons but have yet to win a playoff series. Their undoing in the past has often been poor hitting and bad relief pitching, and it was the former that was most glaring this time.
Harper – wearing shoes with “Pray for Las Vegas” on the side after the recent mass shooting in his hometown – did single in the first inning, but was 0 for 3 in his other at-bats as he tries to regain his timing.
Rendon, Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth were a combined 0 for 17 with three walks.