Washington Nationals: 3 keys to winning Game 5

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Although the Nats did a good job, the first time they faced Hendricks last Friday, he adjusted and frustrated them the rest of the game.

Washington watched pitches high in the strike zone and swung at one’s low for soft contact. They must pressure Hendricks early and make Joe Maddon over-manage the game. Remember, the Cubs burned Jon Lester Wednesday and are forced to use Jose Quintana to bridge to the back of the bullpen. Although Quintana pitched well, relief is new for him.

Allowing Hendricks getting comfortable again is not what the Nats want. They cannot afford to let Chicago dictate the tempo. This will be a tight game regardless, but the longer things remain uneasy on both sides, the better for Washington.

If the Nats get flustered by his breaking stuff, step out of the box and slow down the game. Although base runners are the best way to control pace that is not a guaranteed luxury. Whatever they can do to disrupt Hendricks rhythm creates stress.

Remember Maddon overplayed his hand last year in Game 7 of the World Series. The Cubs won, but had to come back to do so. In Game 5, anything is possible.