I really should stop saying things like “yet” in posts. Yesterday, I posted that the Cubs-Nationals game was the longest one yet, and then they go and make it even longer tonight. Four hours and 37 minutes for Game 5 of the NLDS. And it was definitely a battle to the very end.
Well, mainly it was a battle because neither team could rely on the thing that was carrying them through most of the series — pitching. Pitching was just terrible on both sides tonight — 23 allowed hits, 15 walks, and 17 allowed runs. Both starters left early in the game (the 3rd and 4th innings), giving up 3-4 runs each and still most of the runs were scored by both bullpens. And the only innings in which anyone didn’t score runs were the 4th and 9th. It was messy.
In the 1st, the Cubs’ lead-off batter doubled (though it was challenged by the Nationals but rightly upheld as safe), moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on a ground out. The Cubs then loaded up the bases but couldn’t get anyone else home. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Nationals came back strong starting with a lead-off home run to get them on the board. After consecutive singles, another batter hit another homer, a 3-run shot into the left field seats to push the Nats into the lead.
But to set a pattern, the Cubs came charging back, loading the bases in the 3rd and then scoring 2 runs on a ground out and a wild pitch. Then in the 5th, with 2 outs, the Cubs got 2 singles that promptly scored on a double and put the Cubs back in the lead. After the Nationals intentionally walked the next batter, they got a strikeout but it was a passed ball so the batter took off for 1st. The catcher over threw the ball, so the batter made it to 2nd while the other runner scored another run (also another example of sloppy game play tonight). And the inning continued on. The next batter reached on catcher’s interference (and it wasn’t Ellsbury, Yankee Universe!) to load up the bases, so the next batter being hit by a pitch scored yet another run for the Cubs.
And then into the 6th, the Cubs worked a 2-out walk that scored on a double. And the Nationals answered back in the bottom of that inning with their own 2-out walk. A double moved runners to scoring position, and a walk on a wild pitch moved the runners up and scored a run. A double scored one more to chip off the Cubs’ lead. But the Cubs held on tight in the top of the 7th with 2 1-out singles putting runners on the corners. A fielder’s choice out at 2nd scored one run, despite the Nationals’ challenge of a possible slide interference with the runner at 2nd (they ruled it wasn’t, but I think it really was because of how he swung his feet in the slide).
So the Nationals pieced together some offense in the final third of the game to chip away at the Cubs’ lead. In the bottom of the 7th, they loaded the bases, but only one run scored on a long sacrifice fly. And then in the 8th, they got 2 walks and one of them ended up at 3rd on a double play. He then scored on a single. Another single had 2 runners on bases and threatening. So the Cubs fired over to 1st base at one point to pick off the runner there. It was ruled safe, but challenged by the Cubs and then overturned (though I’m not sure how).
And with that, the Nationals just ran out of outs. Much to the Cubs’ sheer glee.
Final score: 9-8 Cubs, Cubs win NLDS 3-2, advance to NLCS
Okay, so a wrap up of the ALDS… my predictions (last week) were actually pretty good this year (bold is the actual result):
- ALDS 1 — Yankees over Indians in 5 games (Yankees over Indians in 5 games)
- ALDS 2 — Astros over Red Sox in 4 games (Astros over Red Sox in 4 games)
- NLDS 1 — Dodgers over Diamondbacks in 3 games (Dodgers over Diamondbacks in 3 games)
- NLDS 2 — Nationals over Cubs in 5 games (Cubs over Nationals in 5 games)
The final one, of course, I obviously got wrong as of tonight. But for the first time since I’ve been doing this, even the game numbers were right! Not to pat myself on the back, but pat-pat. Actually, after being so very wrong for five years, it’s nice to have a moment of right before I get to be so very wrong all over again. (Believe me, it always happens this way, so it’s why we cherish the momentary times of right.)
Okay, so now that we have a Championship Series, here’s where I’m predicting:
- ALCS — Yankees over Astros, in 6 games*
- NLCS — Dodgers over Cubs, in 4 games
*Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean this is who I’m “rooting for” in each game, just which team I think will win each series. I mean, of course, I’m always “rooting for” the Yankees. But for me, the Yankees-Astros series all comes down to pitching. If the Yankees’ starters have strong outings, this will be the result. If they don’t, the Astros will win in 6 games. And I’m aware that I’ll probably be very wrong now as I’m now overdue for wrong.
The ALCS starts tomorrow (Friday) night in Houston for 2 games there before it heads for possibly 3 games in the Bronx. It would then head back to Houston for the final 2 games if necessary. The NLDS begins Saturday night in the same pattern (LA-Chicago-LA, 2-3-2). First team to win 4 games goes onto the World Series, so Yankee fans, the Yankees are 4 wins from being back in the World Series (last appearance was when they won the 2009 one). Fingers crossed.