Nats drop playoff opener, look to even first round series with Cubs Saturday

Stephen Strasburg took the game 1 loss despite setting a new Nationals/Expos franchise mark for striking out 10 batters in a playoff game.

WASHINGTON – The Nationals take the field Saturday around 5:30 p.m. in a game against the Cubs that many fans might feel is a must win.

It comes less than 24 hours after a 3-0 defeat to Chicago Friday night that felt like a gut punch to close to 40,000 fans and millions more at home.

The Nats were only able to scratch out two hits in their National League Division Series opener with last year’s World Series Champion.

The loss came despite a historic performance by Stephen Strasburg who set a new franchise record by striking out 10 batters in a playoff game. Max Scherzer held the previous high with 7 punch outs.

The Cubs were only able to put a few hits together themselves but they came at key points in the game. Kris Bryant’s 2-out, 2-strike single brought home Javier Baez (who reached on an error when a ground ball fell out of Anthony Rendon’s glove as he was preparing to throw out a runner) for the first and deciding run in the game in the 6th inning.

Bryant just made it to second base just ahead of a throw that could have ended the inning and given the Nats some momentum headed into the bottom of the 6th inning.

Bryant ended up scoring on an Anthony Rizzo single that came oh so close to being caught by Bryce Harper in right field. Harper came charging in quickly on the line drive, left his feet and got his glove on the ball while it was in the air but the bat deflected off his mitt and hit the ground.

Close, but no cigar.

It’s how many fans may feel today, down 1-0 in the best of five series and knowing that the previous three Nats teams to capture a Nationals League East crown in the last five years in that has won a playoff series.
On Friday, the Nats didn’t show the strong offensive prowess throughout most of the season.

The Nats still have time to find their swing that helped them rank 1st in the Nationals League in slugging percentage, 1st in on base percentage + slugging and 3rd in batting average.

For so much of the season this team hit on all cylinders. It can happen again, and if the regular season statistics are any indication, they will.

Game 2 starters are Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96) vs. Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33.)