CHICAGO – Third verse, same as the first.
The Washington Nationals again put on an entertaining display of offensive baseball Sunday at Wrigley Field, beating the Cubs, 7-5, in 11 innings to sweep the three-game series.
The Nationals scored their 11th-inning runs off Tyler Chatwood, the Cubs’ eighth pitcher of the game.
While the Cubs remain mired in the all-or-nothing morass that is 2019 baseball, the Nats put the ball in play all over the field this weekend and ran the bases. Sure, they mixed in the occasional homer, but they’re not as reliant on it as the Cubs.
Over the three games, the Nats outscored the Cubs, 23-10, and outhit them, 37-20. Just as they did in the first two games, Washington batters made use of the quaint single, getting 11 of them among their 14 hits.
Of the Cubs’ five runs, four came because of the home run.
Maybe it’s having three hitting coaches in three years, or maybe the Cubs’ young veterans are what they are, but there’s little in the way of moving pieces to the Cubs’ offense.
“I give them credit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the Nationals. “They worked some really good at-bats. They worked some tough at-bats. The big difference was they weren’t chasing out of the (strike) zone, and we were. That’s the difference in the series primarily.”
The Nationals had a 5-2 lead in the top of Sunday’s seventh inning, but the Cubs did battle back via the home run, naturally.
Victor Caratini’s solo blast down the right-field line brought the Cubs to within 5-3 in the seventh. Kyle Schwarber hit a long, two-run opposite-field home run in the eighth for his team-leading 30th to tie the score.
The Cubs looked like they might have won this in the 10th, but Nicholas Castellanos’ high drive to center was caught at the warning track.
Castellanos thought he had it all.
“Yes, I did,” he said. “There was no tiny bit (of wind). It was a lot of wind. I missed it by a tiny bit, but there was a lot of wind.”
The Cubs got five-plus innings out of starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who gave up seven hits and two runs. Rowan Wick was charged with the three runs the Nats scored in the seventh.
“They’re hot, probably as hot as any team we’ll ever play right now,” Hamels said of the Nationals. “They’re putting the ball in play. They’re finding holes. They’re just putting good at-bats together. It’s a lot different from what we saw (from) them earlier in the season. But I think they’re doing that to every team.”
Things will stay tough for the Cubs, who face good pitching in New York against the Mets this week.
“We’re going to play another hot team, which is the Mets,” Castellanos said. “To take the woe-is-me attitude would do nobody any justice. So we’ve got to wash it and get ready play good baseball in New York.”