Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals outplayed the Chicago Cubs for eight and a half innings. After multiple blunders, the Cubs it walked-off, 4-3.
Taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the ninth, Ryan Madson was called on for the save. After the first out, defensive replacement Wilmer Difo bobbled a routine ground ball to allow the first runner on. Madson proceeded to hit two of the next three batters, setting up a bases loaded, two-out situation.
On a 2-2 count, Bote crushed a ball to dead center field, dropped his bat, and admired the biggest moment in his young career.
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Optimism Turned into Heartbreak
Entering the bottom of the ninth, the Nats were three outs away from another “turning point” moment in their season. In a hostile environment, Davey Martinez appeared to have a series win against his former club in the bag.
The storyline would have been the Nats winning their eighth game in August and taking a series against the best team in the National League. Behind a dominant outing from Max Scherzer and Ryan Zimmerman catching fire, it was the perfect storm for a momentum boost.
However, that is not the case. The Nats drop two of three to the Cubs and waste Max Scherzer’s magnificent start. Ryan Madson blew a save and is dealing with back pain that he did not reveal until after the game. The team entered the series 5.5 games back of first place in the N.L. East and failed to gain ground.
Motivation Carries Scherzer
The one constant for the Nationals this season has been Scherzer. It was no different tonight as he threw arguably his best game of the season in the Friendly Confines.
His final stat line reads seven shutout innings with three hits allowed and eleven strikeouts. Seven of his first nine outs were strikeouts. That is the fifth time Scherzer has done that this season (most in the MLB).
To no one’s surprise, Scherzer dominated tonight. When Scherzer is motivated, he becomes the best pitcher in baseball. Remember the fatal fifth inning in Game 5 of last season’s NLDS? Scherzer allowed four runs (two unearned) in his relief appearance. He had this series circled long before the season started. And tonight, he showed up with revenge on his mind.
The Washington Nationals road trip continues Monday with a four-game set with the red-hot St Louis Cardinals. Taking the mound for the Nationals is Tommy Milone. 2018 All-Star Miles Mikolas will throw the first pitch for the Cardinals at 8:10 ET.