May 5: Cubs Hold Off Nats 5-2 in Duel of NL’s Best

Great stuff from the Cubbies tonight against a reeeeeeeally good Washington team. Coming off the sweep of Pittsburgh I knew the Cubs were playing some great baseball, but I still had some concerns heading into this one. Mostly, I was worried that the pitching matchup for the evening could give us some trouble.

Joe Ross, who started for the Nationals and is the younger brother of Padres starter Tyson Ross, took the hill for Washington in this one, and coming in he’s been looking pretty formidable. Ross came into this one with a .79 ERA and a 4-0 record in 4 starts on the year.

For the Cubs, Kyle Hendricks got the ball, and against such a talented middle of the order for Washington, there was certainly the possibility coming in that things could get ugly. Instead, Hendricks delivered some top quality stuff, fanning 4 over 6 scoreless innings.

And it was a good thing he did. The Cubs’ offense was only able to muster 2 runs against a solid pitching performance from Ross and the Nationals’ staff over the first 7 innings, before breaking it open in the 8th on the wings of a Ben Zobrist homer.

The first 2 Cubs runs came on a 2 RBI single off the bat of Ben Zobrist in the 4th. The Cubs had some momentum in the inning, but were unable to push any more runs across after Anthony Rizzo was called out at 3rd base.

In the same inning, Kris Bryant CRUSHED one to dead center that fell just shy of the basket and lodged itself in the ivy for a ground rule double.

Then, in the 8th, Ben Zobrist came through again with some clutch insurance on a 2-run shot, his second homer in as many days. A couple batters later, Addison Russell would tack on 1 more on an RBI double over the head of Jayson Werth in left.

But what excited me most about this performance from Chicago’s bullpen through the middle innings. Richard, Grimm, and Strop were solid in a tight game, and bought the offense time to build up some insurance, which would turn out to be much needed as Jayson Werth put 2 on the board for Washington in the 9th.

Last but not least, it should be mentioned that the home plate umpire this evening was straight up awful. Strike zone was big time inconsistent, and when Dexter Fowler had something to say about it he was promptly ejected. Looked like the ump was a little out of line on that one as Dex looked pretty calm. The fans at the ballpark certainly weren’t happy about it and neither was I.

Regardless, the good guys get the W, and that’s all that matters.