Game 78 Recap: Nationals 8, Cubs 4

I apologize for the unfortunate timing in my signing up for the recap tonight. Clearly this one should’ve gone to BP Wrigleyville’s newest staffmembers: Franz Kafka and Sylvia Plath.

Forget Daniel Murphy, Matt Holliday, and Hunter Strickland. My least favorite person in baseball is whoever installed third base at Nationals Park.

So…who wants to talk about Miguel Montero or the White House visit instead?



What You Need to Know: John Lackey was pitching against the Nationals. He gave up three homers and eight runs in 5.1 innings. Gilbert Gottfried put it best: “I could die from lack of surprise.”

This matters very little.

On a day where locker room chaos spilled into the public eye and the team made a controversial and redundant trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it says something that the single worst part of the past 24 hours was a pop up to third base. Kris Bryant caught Matt Wieters’s foul fly and appeared to innocuously stumble against the bag jogging back to his position.

Unfortunately, it turned out that he rolled his ankle along the edge of the base. Bryant never crumpled to the ground but also couldn’t stand up straight and put weight on it. He ended up being helped off the field by a phalanx of Cubs, finally being assisted to the locker room by Jake Arrieta and Jason Heyward because he needed support from players of similar height.

It was the ugliest sight since Kyle Schwarber was carted off the field last year.

Next Level: Obviously, this is not last year’s team. That has been made abundantly clear by now.

But for the time being, the Cubs just need to hang around in the division while Bryant heals up. I know…easier said than done. Much easier said. So how can they do this?

Well, it certainly helps to play in the NL Central. I suppose it’s conceivable that the Brewers can run away and hide in the next month. But again, it’s kind of hard to picture a reality where that happens, since Hunter S. Thompson didn’t sign up for this recap either.

If the Cubs are going to hang in there, it’s going to be by getting other key players healthy. We know Addison Russell is well enough to swing a bat. As soon as he gets back on the field, Joe Maddon can field a lineup with Ian Happ at second, Russell at short, and Javy Baez at third. That’s still missing an MVP, but it’s undoubtedly major league caliber.

On the other hand, the outfield is going to be sub-optimal for a little while. As Jim Deshaies mentioned during the telecast, the Cubs will just have to hope that Kyle Schwarber gets right as quickly as possible in AAA. There will be a natural urge to rush him along, but we all know Theo Epstein well enough by now to realize that he’s not going to jeopardize Schwarber’s mental well-being over the long term in order to seek a quick fix.

Then at some point, hope Heyward and Ben Zobrist get healthy while the Cubs are still in striking distance. Make some moves at the trade deadline, and give it a shot.

And if all of that fails, pop in the 2016 World Series DVD, and remember that there was still one year where the essential unfairness of the universe actually lost.

Top Play (WPA): Willson Contreras’s two-run homer in the fourth (+.051). Honestly, this feels a bit like trying to figure out what was the funniest line in Leaving Las Vegas.

Bottom Play (WPA): Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI single in the first (-.092). WPA seems to think there’s a worse play than Wieters’s foul pop to third. Because WPA doesn’t know shit.

Up Next: The series in Washington mercifully concludes tomorrow afternoon, and the pitching matchup (Jon Lester vs. Joe Ross) actually favors the Cubs. No matter what happens on the field, if Anthony Rizzo leaves DC with all four limbs intact, I’m considering it a win.

Lead photo courtesy Geoff Burke—USA Today Sports

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