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What You Need To Know: Cubs Escape From D.C.

Image credit: USA Today Sports

The Thursday Takeaway

After the Cubs spent a frustrating weekend in Washington dealing with not only a plucky Nationals team that isn’t going quietly into the offseason but also a wacky weather system that resulted in an ill-fated doubleheader, you could imagine that Chicago probably wasn’t exactly thrilled to return to D.C. so soon.

With that said, it appears that the Cubs followed the lead of Anthony Rizzo. He already was prepared, even on the plane ride to Washington. The best barometer of preparedness is obviously what happens on the field and the first six innings went well for Chicago. They had a 3-2 lead after Javier Baez hit a homer to put the Cubs ahead.

However, that changed in the seventh inning. Carl Edwards Jr. got the first two batters out, but a walk of Victor Robles was costly as Trea Turner doubled home Robles to tie the score at 3-all.

The Cubs loaded the bases with just one out in the eighth inning, but Greg Holland struck out Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist to escape the jam. The score stayed tied going into extra innings following this nifty double-play conversion by Sean Doolittle.

The Cubs found themselves in another favorable position with Daniel Murphy and Kris Bryant in scoring position with just one out. That brought Baez back to the plate and he zigged when the Nationals were clearly expecting him to zag. That’s the only way to explain how this bunt managed to work. The bunt bloop somehow eluded the grasp of Ryan Zimmerman and brought home the tiebreaking run.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t drama in the bottom of the 10th. The Cubs lost closer Pedro Strop to a hamstring injury when he hurt himself while running out an inning-ending double play. Not ideal.

Chicago escaped Washington amid a looming hurricane. It came at the cost of using eight relievers, including one to injury, but it’s always better to deal with problems after a victory.

Quick Hits

After 6 ½ innings, the Diamondbacks appeared poised to claw their way back against the Rockies after Colorado had raced to a 5-1 lead. Once again, Trevor Story played a big role in helping to boost Colorado’s chances.

Arizona closed within 5-3 in the top of the seventh, but the wheels came off its bullpen. Jake Diekman loaded the bases and gave way to Brad Boxberger, who walked in a run and got a lineout before he passed the baton to Andrew Chafin. Chafin gave up three consecutive singles and, just like that, a 5-3 game had transformed into a 10-3 laugher and another sign that the Diamondbacks may be fading away.

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Arizona’s apparent demise has to serve as a relief for the Dodgers, who are still actively involved in the race for the NL West crown along with a fallback spot in the NL Wild Card game. While the Dodgers didn’t gain any ground on the Rockies, they gained on their other competitors when they beat the Cardinals 9-7. Clayton Kershaw didn’t exactly give the sharpest performance, but Dodger fans won’t complain about a quality start and the ace helping himself with an RBI single.

The star of the show was Manny Machado, whose home run in the seventh provided breathing room for the Dodgers, who fended off a comeback in the ninth.

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Baltimore’s Dylan Bundy went six innings and limited Oakland to just two runs while he was on the mound, helping the O’s avoid being swept. The Yankees probably appreciated this, given how tight the AL Wild Card race has been getting.

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Here’s a not-so-fun fact about Seattle’s postseason drought: In the 16 seasons since the Mariners reached the playoffs, they’ve finished above .500 six times. Despite beating the Angels and getting a home run by Nelson Cruz, they’re inching toward another such season.

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The Mets had an emotional day, with David Wright basically confirming that he doesn’t plan on playing after this season. The face of the Mets for so long will make a final appearance during New York’s final homestand before, probably, hanging up his cleats for good.

With that in mind, the Mets had to go out and play a doubleheader against the Marlins. The first game ended in dramatic fashion, with Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier hitting back-to-back homers to walk it off for the Mets.

Conforto kept on raking in the second game, going 2 for 4 with a two-run double that put the Mets in the lead. Tomas Nido also hit his first career home run. The MLB world just keeps on turning.

Defensive Play of the Day

When I first saw this play by Manny Machado, I was halfway convinced that he was going to try to pull a Magic Johnson move and attempt to get the runner with a no-look behind-the-back toss. Once I reigned in my wildest dreams and accepted reality, I simply witnessed him use his bare hand to field a ball and then rear back and gun down the runner at first base.

What to Watch on Friday

The Athletics spend the weekend at Tampa Bay to take on a very dangerous spoiler team. While it would require a hot finish to what’s been a surprisingly good season for Tampa Bay, it’s still possible for the Rays to finish as a third-place team with 90 wins.

That would require Tampa’s army of openers to get things started by shutting down the A’s, which would derail Oakland’s hopes of winning home field in the Wild Card.




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