It’s a new game on a new day. After the Nationals dropped Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Friday night, they will look to get even with the Cubs this afternoon on South Capitol Street.
While technically not a must-win game, the Nats really can’t afford to go to Chicago down 2-0. And so a lot of pressure falls on Gio Gonzalez, who takes the mound today for Game 2. Gonzalez had one of his best seasons with the Nationals this year, going 15-9 with a 2.96 ERA.
Though there may be some concern around NatsTown that Max Scherzer isn’t starting until Game 3, consider this: Gonzalez posted a 2.76 ERA at home this season, with a 3.12 ERA on the road, while Scherzer went 10-2 with an 1.82 ERA on the road and had a 3.25 ERA at Nats Park. So perhaps this could work out in manager Dusty Baker’s favor.
The key for Gonzalez tonight: Get the Cubs to chase with his swing-and-miss stuff and keep getting out of jams. He has been terrific with runners in scoring position, holding opposing hitters to a .175 average in such situations.
Meanwhile, the opposite is the key for the Nationals offense. After going 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and leaving six runners on base, the Nats are going to need Trea Turner to get on at the top of the order and pose a threat on the base paths to Cubs starter Jon Lester.
We’re getting close to first pitch, so be sure to check back throughout Game 2 for more updates! I’ll be posting pictures, videos and tweets, while also interacting in the comments section. You can reach me on Twitter at @Bobby_Blanco.
Let’s start off with some F.P. Santangelo tweets from last night and pregame videos of Bryce Harper and MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman from today.
#Nats fans brought it tonight. Bravo!! With not a whole lot to cheer for too. Boys will bring it tomorrow. They have to. Just one game. Win tomorrow then Max.-- F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) October 7, 2017
This my DO NOT PANIC EVERYTHING’S GOING TO BE OK face pic.twitter.com/Kcd9aMCmLr-- F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) October 7, 2017
Update: Game 2 is underway with a bang! After an always-perfect National Anthem from D.C. Washington and flyover, Gonzalez sat down the Cubs in order on 16 pitches. Then Anthony Rendon made up for his fielding error from last night with a solo opposite-field home run to give the Nats their first run of the series!
THERE GOES THE NO HITTER!!!-- F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) October 7, 2017
Update II: The Nats’ first lead of the series didn’t last long. Leading off the top of the second, Willson Contreras hit a line-drive home run to tie the game at 1-1. Contreras came into this game as one of only three players on the Cubs’ postseason roster to homer off the Nationals southpaw. In fact, Contreras’ only hits off Gonzalez have been home runs.
Contreras came into today’s game as one of the few Cubs with a homer off Gio. Got one there to tie this game back up quickly.-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 7, 2017
Get this: Out of 6,133 homers hit this year (inc. postseason), Contreras’ was only the 11th with a launch angle of 45 degrees or more.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 7, 2017
Ball is carrying today, and everyone’s getting fooled by it. Werth started in on Contreras’ flyball to LF ... wound up 3 rows deep. 1-1 game-- Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 7, 2017
Update III: The Cubs are again taking advantage of their baserunners. Kris Bryant hit a leadoff double to start the fourth and Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer to right field for a 3-1 lead. The umpires took a second look at the play, with the Nationals thinking that a fan (in a Cubs jersey, by the way) reached over the fence and grabbed the fly ball. It looked close on replay, but the call stands.
The top-middle of the Cubs order continues to do damage against Nats pitching.
I think they’re going to review the homer for fan interference.-- Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 7, 2017
It was a Cubs fan who caught that ball. Close call if he reached over the fence.-- Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 7, 2017
Sure looked like the fan reached over.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 7, 2017
Call stands. I think the ball would’ve hit the railing above the green wall regardless.-- Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 7, 2017
I guess if it hits the railing, though, it’s still a homer.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 7, 2017
Update IV: Bryce. Harper. Loves. The. Spotlight. With a runner on first and down 3-1 in the eighth, Harper delivered with a monster two-run home run to tie this game and send Nats Park into absolute chaos.
Read ‘em and weep (tears of joy, of course):
And suddenly. it happened.-- Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) October 8, 2017
Said don’t be surprised if Bryce Harper did something incredible. I’m not. He loves the spotlight.-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 8, 2017
Haven’t heard #Nats Park this loud since Werth’s Game 4 walkoff in 2012.-- Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 8, 2017
Bryce Harper loves the spotlight.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 8, 2017
Bat flip dot gif.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 8, 2017
Harper’s homer officially traveled 421 feet. To everyone inside #Nats Park, it felt like 421 miles.-- Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 8, 2017
Same F*****G seats!-- F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) October 8, 2017
Update V: This game has been busted wide open! Ryan Zimmerman, Mr. Clutch himself, launched a three-run homer to extend the Nationals’ lead to 6-3! The crowd at Nats Park has been louder than I’ve ever heard it and “DOOOOO” is raining down as Sean Doolittle comes in to close this one out.
ohmygod-- Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) October 8, 2017
Mr. Clutch.-- Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) October 8, 2017
O M G . pic.twitter.com/Z6qhmUsOFw-- Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) October 8, 2017
Update VI: Well, that was exciting! As we wrap up from Nats Park for tonight, check back tomorrow morning for a complete social recap of the Nationals’ 6-3 victory! Off to Chicago!