The Chicago Cubs came into the rubber match of the weekend series with the Washington Nationals with a tough row to hoe, as three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2018 MVP candidate SP Max Scherzer was scheduled to start for the visiting Nats. The Washington ace was faced by new Cubs acquisition Cole Hamels, making his third start for the Northsiders, who came into the game with a 2-0 record and 0.82 ERA as a Cub.
Scherzer was as sharp as usual, giving up no runs on 3 hits in 7.0 IP with 11 SO and 1 BB. However, Hamels was nearly as good, giving up 1 ER on 1 hit with 9 SO and 1 BB in 7.0 innings. It was the walk of Nationals INF Ryan Zimmerman in the second inning that came back to bite Hamels, as Zimmerman advanced to 3rd base on a single by INF Daniel Murphy and came in to score on a sacrifice fly by INF Mark Reynolds. Hamels gave up no runs thereafter, setting down the next 17 Washington batters.
Nationals RP Koda Glover replaced Scherzer in the 8th inning but the Cubs failed to score INF Tommy La Stella after a leadoff single. INF Javier Báez was called out at first base on a replay review of a potential infield hit to end the inning.
In the top of the 9th, Cubs RP and former National Brandon Kintzler retired the leadoff batter, utility player Matt Adams, on a lineout to INF Addison Russell but then gave up a triple to INF Trea Turner on a ball misplayed by OF Kyle Schwarber in left. The Cubs righthander then walked young phenom OF Juan Soto. OF and one-time NL MVP Bryce Harper was then intentionally walked to load the bases for Zimmerman, who singled to score Turner and Soto. RP Justin Wilson was called in by Cubs manager Joe Maddon to work out of the jam. Wilson retired Murphy on a flyout and Reynolds with a strikeout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, with the home team down 3-0, RP Ryan Madson, who has taken over the closer role for Washington since the injury to RP Sean Doolittle, took the hill for the visitors in his seventh save opportunity of the year. He induced a groundout by INF Ben Zobrist to start the inning but lost control thereafter thanks to a ground ball misplayed by INF Wilmer Difo at second, who had taken over for utility player Matt Adams as a defensive replacement. The play was ruled a single for Heyward. Madson then hit OF Albert Almora, Jr., advancing Heyward to second. OF Kyle Schwarber hit a pop fly caught by INF Anthony Rendon in foul territory for the second out of the inning, but Madson nailed C Willson Contreras on the arm to load the bases for rookie INF David Bote, pinch hitting for Wilson.
Number 13 proved to be lucky yet again for the Northsiders. Bote showed the poise previously exhibited in other high-leverage situations since joining the Cubs, working a 2-2 count and then drilling a pitch into center field for a walkoff grand slam and one of the most satisfying Cubs victories of the 2018 season.
After tonight’s victory over Washington and the Atlanta Braves’ 8-7 defeat of the second-place Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs hold a 3.0 game lead in the NL Central division prior to their two-game series against Milwaukee starting at 2:20 PM ET on Tuesday. Support the site by buying your tickets from SeatGeek!
I grew up a Cubs fan in Northwest Illinois and became an avid follower of the team during the Sosa-McGwire home run chase. Now I am the #1 Cubs fan in Toronto, Canada. You can find me on Twitter @Troll_Hamels (personal) and @farnorthsider (blog).