Levine: Cubs Stay Even-Keeled After Bullpen Meltdown Changes Complexion Of Series


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Where Hendricks did it with infuriating accuracy and persistence, Strasburg's stuff was electric-his fastball in the early going was sitting 97-98 miles per hour, and his changeup was absolutely wiping out Cubs hitters. After missing much of August and nearly all of September with a knee injury, Harper's status coming into the series was questionable.

The Nationals were in serious danger of falling behind 2-0 in the series, entering the eighth trailing 3-1 after being shut out in Game 1. It was such a surprise that the press box announced that Hendricks would be replaced, eventually retracting that when he remained on the mound. For the Nationals, who looked positively dead until those five runs were scored, they get a momentary boost from tonight's win. Montgomery got him with a changeup in the strike zone for the first pitch and then tried coming back with another, but this proved ill-fated.

"You know, Game 2 of the postseason, it's not got-to win", Harper said, the Nationals' 24-year-old star.

"Maybe not best ever but it was up there", said Hendricks of his performance.

Chicago Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo caught the third out in the second inning against the Nationals but threw to second base thinking it was only two outs. But for the Cubs, this could've been the chance to bury the dagger.

Hendricks did more than that.

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The Washington Nationals hope to inch one game closer to advancing to the NLCS. Hendricks doesn't appear to be going that way. During his last four regular season starts, Gio Gonzalez amassed a groan-inducing 6.75 ERA. He has been terrific with runners in scoring position, holding opposing hitters to a.175 average in such situations. Anthony Rendon followed Harper's homer with a walk, which was followed by a single from Daniel Murphy, which was followed by a skyscraping three-run Zimmerman jack that just barely escaped the reach of left fielder Ben Zobrist and sailed over the left field fence. The veteran left-hander said on Wednesday that it was a "Passing of the Torch" in a sense of the ace label from himself to the righty. "It wasn't an easy play". And yet the Nats managed just two hits - none after the second inning - and lost.

"Because the velocity is ticking up". He's not going to go out there and just go 0-2 on everybody.

Lackey was not among the starting pitchers that Cubs manager Joe Maddon had announced for the NLDS that begins in Washington on Friday night, so his status was in doubt. "As a hitter when he's able to do that with that movement and you have to honor that". "It doesn't get more fun than that right there". You can see his delivery, how well he repeated it, pitch after pitch after pitch. "You can tell immediately when he's on top of that, meeting his mechanics".

But, I have to admit, this Cubs team is impressive.

The Cubs already have a title and are as built to last as any of those teams, and probably more so.

With his game-tying, eighth-inning blast into the second deck at Nationals Park, Harper provided - at least temporarily - a loud record scratch in what to that point sounded like the same ol' song for a team that tends to hit all the wrong notes when it plays baseball in October.

"It just didn't come off the same", Edwards said. Turner, the sparkplug expected to run all the Cubs the way he did in June before a Chicago reliever's fastball fractured his wrist, hasn't reached base in eight plate appearances to give it a try.