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Instant analysis: Cubs 5, Nats 3

Jun 26, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On a strangely fog-filled June evening at Wrigley Field, it wasn’t always easy to see things clearly. This much was clear, though: The Nationals weren’t in top form in their series opener against the last-place Cubs.

Doug Fister labored, especially during a 3-run fourth inning, and allowed way more balls to be hit into the air than the sinkerball specialist normally prefers. And a lineup that was bolstered by the return of Wilson Ramos — he notched two singles and drew a walk — couldn’t take advantage of a wild Travis Wood on the mound for the Cubs.

The Nationals did rally to tie the game in the top of the seventh on Denard Span’s 2-run double off the right-field wall. But Craig Stammen gave both runs back in the bottom of the inning, and the Nats couldn’t mount another rally against the Chicago bullpen. Thus they dropped their second straight and missed an opportunity to extend their lead on the Braves in the NL East to 2 games.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Though they managed a couple of clutch hits (Anthony Rendon’s RBI single in the sixth, Span’s 2-run double in the seventh), the Nationals squandered several other opportunities to score more against an often-struggling Wood. They put three men on base in the second but failed to score, in part because of a questionable send by third base coach Bobby Henley. They put four men on base in the sixth but scored only one run because of an Adam LaRoche double play and an Ian Desmond strikeout. And even after Span tied the game with his seventh-inning double, he killed a shot at scoring the go-ahead run when he strayed too far around second base and was thrown out.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: This wasn’t exactly a typical Fister pitching performance, but ultimately give the right-hander props for battling and giving his team a chance to win the game. Fister was roughed up for three runs in the top of the fourth, an inning in which he threw a whopping 39 pitches. That left his total count at 82, exactly what the Nationals didn’t want to see in the wake of Tuesday’s 16-inning game and with a doubleheader coming up Saturday. But to his credit, Fister finished strong, tossing two more scoreless innings on only 20 pitches. After all that, he still was credited with a quality start, his seventh in 10 outing so far this season.

KEY STAT: Ian Desmond has struck out 23 times in his last 54 plate appearances.

UP NEXT: The series continues with the unusual — though traditional at Wrigley Field — late-afternoon Friday ballgame. It’ll be Tanner Roark vs. Jason Hammel at 4:05 p.m. EDT.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Where do you start on this one? Poor send by Henley in the 2nd inning, poor baserunning by Span, poor relief appearance by Stammen.

    • coop202 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      Yikes desi …

  2. David Proctor - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    Stammen didn’t have it tonight. Stammen’s been great for three years. Sometimes a guy doesn’t have it. No need to draw any greater narratives about it.

    As for Fister, I was curious how he’d pitch coming off throwing the second most pitches of his career. I thought he was fine. In that big inning, he only gave up 1 hard hit ball. He gave up an infield hit, a hard hit double to Rizzo, a broken bat hit and a grounder that got by Desi. When you don’t strike out guys, sometimes those things will happen. You can’t do much about it. Fister battled and kept us in the game.

    The baserunning mistakes are the most frustrating thing to me. The pitching happens, sometimes you don’t have it. Baserunning mistakes are mental. Bob Henley’s send is baffling but other than some awful decisions early on in April, I think he’s been pretty good. Better than Trent Jewett. I’m still not sure what Span was doing.

  3. David Proctor - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    Best sign was Ramos 2/3 with a walk.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      And he never tried to do more than was necessary… I just knew he would try to make it for 2nd on that throw to home to get Ryan out…

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        Ramos did fine. Needs to stretch well every day.

  4. manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Mr. Negative.

    Is there anything positive your mind at all

  5. manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    2006 the team that won the world series was mediocre with 83 wins.

    This team on a pace for 87 wins.

    Seems like an easy world series win to me.

  6. Nats fool - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    They weren’t focused today. The frustrating inability to score feels just like last year. A streak of four wins then two losses. This team doesn’t keep an even keel. The pieces don’t seem to fit. I don’t expect it to change at this point. This team is mental.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      I didn’t see a lack of focus. Just didn’t hit well enough.

  7. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    Whelp… I think The Henley send was the worst… Had Woods on the ropes and we let him off the hook… I want to say the next inning, he came out and threw like 10 pitches…

    I am not as hard on span for the base running as we don’t know if would have gotten home but yeah it takes the ball out of 1 of the better batters hands…

    But Stammen simply was off tonight.. Everything seemed up and his slider wasn’t effective… Was surprised he came in seeing how MW likes to use his usual suspects of Storen, Clip and Sori… But I digress… As soon as Henley sent Ryan, that seemed to set the tone, for me.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      His release point at first was low, then he over adjusted. Then it was high.

  8. manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    Maybe for some not Ian. Has no options.

    • coop202 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      I thought we had all agreed to ignore swm.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      Sorry, he knows he is under my skin even more than Gio’s nibbling. I will start now.

  9. manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Coop202 thanks for your gentle repremand. Nothing ticks me off more than haters.

    • coop202 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:11 PM

      All good! Losses are always grounds for frustration. As an older UVA alum I’m still nursing wounds from last night too ha.

      Think we should bounce back tomorrow. In the mean time would love to see stl and la play a lot of extra inning games tonight and this weekend…

  10. manassasnatsfan - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    I will be leading a reunion committee retreat this weekend. I hope to check in.

  11. David Proctor - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    Phils and Fish are in the 14th

  12. David Proctor - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    Fish lose and are under .500.

  13. realdealnats - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    They’ve looked tired ever since that 16 inning ordeal.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 72 53 --
ATLANTA 66 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 9.5
NEW YORK 60 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.0
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
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