Cubs, Nationals Battling in Game 1 of NLDS

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Anthony Rizzo powered the Cubs offense, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. "As a hitter when he's able to do that with that movement and you have to honor that".

BC-BBN-NLDS-Nationals-Rendon, 644Rendon makes key error, Nats unravel in 6th inning vs CubsAP Photo NAT125, NAT126, NAT118Eds: With AP Photos. Or you can call it another of those nearly microscopic, but lethal manifestations of October pressure. Easy out. He got Rizzo down 0-2 on a curveball and a fastball that he swung through, wasted a change-up, then got him to swing through another change-up. The safest assumption on earth is that this was not his intention after an evening of nearly ideal pitches by the dozen. Strasburg, throwing 81 pitches, fanned 10 and gave up three hits, one walk and two unearned runs. But also at the worst of times.

An error by third baseman Anthony Rendon in the top of the sixth was a concern, but did not seem a particularly hard obstacle to overcome. Next up, Anthony Rizzo knocked an RBI single as well, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead and officially delivering the Bryzzo connection.

The Cubs have had some dependable closers over the years, but rarely have they had one that dominated in both the regular season and the postseason. The lack of blunders, at least in baseball, applies a pressure that is nearly as efficient as brilliant play.

Despite their record, the Chicago Cubs had to work to get to the postseason after a slow start at the beginning of the season.

Wade Davis came in for the save in what was a somewhat controversial ninth inning.

Given that 2-0 lead, the Cubs proceeded to victory with calm, professional confidence.

The Cubs can capitalize on the uncertainty in the Nats' rotation. The Game 2 noise will make the Washington Monument shudder and shake Capitol Hill to its roots. The Cubs will send out one of the toughest postseason-tested legends of his generation, Jon Lester.

John Lackey is on the World Series champion Chicago Cubs' roster for their NL Division Series against the Washington Nationals.

It feels like a lot. And speaking of Scherzer, who's slated for Game 3: Is he really healthy enough to pitch?

After winning 103 games in 2016, the Cubs struggled through the first half in 2017 and headed into the All-Star break under.500 at 43-45, trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 5 1/2 games in the National League Central.

While the Cubs are no longer the "Lovable Losers" after last year's championship, the Nationals were the NL East champions for the fourth time in six seasons, but have yet to win a playoff series. If you don't win the World Series, it's disappointing.

Yet in October, the Nats often seem nearly excellent, but not quite excellent enough.

If Max Scherzer were healthy this series would be different in two ways. But they keep score by wins. "Obviously it didn't go the way we wanted tonight, but we'll bounce back tomorrow". "But they've got the right people in there now". Close games, slit throats.

Congressman Steve Scalise, shot in June on a baseball field, went to the mound aided by canes and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. That may serve him well for years. Good-bye first game of the best-of-five series. Daniel Murphy, not known for his defensive magic, was in a prime position to field Contreras' steaming ground ball.

And he was right when he said this on Wednesday, just moments after announcing the righty as his starter: "Right now I anticipate him pitching well into this game on Friday night".

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