Nats-Cubs NLDS Game 4: In Real Life

Nats-Cubs NLDS Game 4: In Real Life

The Nationals beat the Cubs, 5-0, in Game 4 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile. The victory evened the series at two games apiece and forced a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS.

MLB.com was on the scene in and around Wrigley Field.

8:08 p.m. ET: Sean gone
Sean Doolittle struck out Addison Russell swinging to put the finishing touch on a 1-2-3 ninth and help the Nats force a Game 5.

7:22 p.m. ET: Taylor made!
Michael A. Taylor beat the elements and quieted a raucous Wrigley Field crowd with his first career postseason home run. He greeted Cubs closer Wade Davis with a grand slam that gave the Nationals a 5-0 lead in the eighth inning. After Carl Edwards Jr. issued consecutive walks to load the bases and issued a first-pitch ball to Taylor, he was replaced by Davis, who gave up the home run on a 94.5-mph fastball. The line drive, which landed in the right-field basket, had a 106.2-mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™, that allowed it to fight through a stiff wind. The homer was the first postseason grand slam in Nationals or Expos history.

Taylor's grand slam to right

7:00 p.m. ET: Not cursed at first
Everyone knows Jon Lester doesn't like throwing over to first base, so he caught all of Wrigley Field -- especially Ryan Zimmerman -- by surprise by making three straight pickoff attempts in the eighth inning. Zimmerman was called safe after all three throws, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon immediately asked for a review of the third attempt. The umpires put on their headphones for consultation with New York, but the crowd didn't wait to celebrate, as replays on the scoreboard showed Anthony Rizzo tag Zimmerman just before the Nat's hand reached the base. Moments later, the umpires signaled that Zimmerman was indeed out, spurring more raucous applause.

Lester resumed the at-bat against Daniel Murphy, eventually yielding a single that prompted Maddon to make a call to the bullpen. Lester's final line: 3 2/3 innings, one hit, one walk, three strikeouts. More >

Lester picks off Zimmerman

6:46 p.m. ET: Stretch fun
Any home fans at Wrigley Field anxious about Stephen Strasburg's devastating changeup had a chance to celebrate when beloved Cubs fans and actors Nick Offerman and Elisabeth Moss sang "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch.

Moss, Offerman sing at Wrigley

6:33 p.m. ET: Flu who?
Stephen Strasburg might now realize how dominant he can be when he's not feeling his best. Strasburg has notched nine strikeouts over six scoreless, three-hit innings. Though he battled flu-like symptoms this week, his effort has been as impressive as the one he provided in Game 1, when he held the Cubs hitless through five innings and then surrendered a pair of two-out unearned runs in the sixth.  

Zimmerman battles the wind

5:55 p.m. ET: Here's Jonny
After a short start by Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester emerged from the Cubs' bullpen to reprise his role from Game 7 of last year's World Series. Arrieta threw 90 pitches and walked five over four innings but allowed only an unearned run in his first start since Sept. 26. Cubs manager Joe Maddon, needing to cover five more innings, summoned Lester to begin the fifth against Bryce Harper. Lester pitched Game 2 at Nationals Park, so he entered Wednesday's game on three days' rest. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs' Game 1 starter, is slated to start Game 5 if the series returns to Washington.

5:40 p.m. ET: Jake slithers out of trouble
The Nationals continued to push Jake Arrieta in the fourth inning, loading the bases and forcing him to throw 28 pitches, but they could not pad their 1-0 lead even with the Cubs starter seemingly on the ropes. Anthony Rendon doubled, Michael A. Taylor walked and Trea Turner drew a two-out walk to bring up Jayson Werth, who was bumped up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup to revive a slumping Washington lineup. Werth fouled off three straight pitches then took a high, 92.4-mph fastball -- the hardest pitch of the at-bat -- for a called third strike to complete Arrieta's escape.

Arrieta escapes a jam in 4th

5:11 p.m. ET: Turning point
Trea Turner reached base for the first time during this postseason and scored on an Addison Russell error to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Turner snapped an 0-for-13 skid when he doubled off Jake Arrieta with one out in the third inning, took third base on a wild pitch and crossed the plate when Russell was unable to handle Ryan Zimmerman's two-out chopper in the infield grass.   

4:28 p.m. ET: Fowl territory
Nats second baseman Daniel Murphy had to press pause in the first inning to run around shallow right field to disperse a small flock of birds.

4:27 p.m. ET: Stras produced
Stephen Strasburg showed no signs of fatigue or lingering flu-like symptoms as he recorded two strikeouts during a perfect first inning. Strasburg battled the flu this week, but he arrived at Wrigley Field a few hours before Wednesday's first pitch and deemed himself ready to pitch in this must-win game for the Nationals. He held the Cubs hitless through the first five innings of Game 1.  

4:10 p.m. ET: Hey, Chicago, what do you say
After a postponement and a full day of questions about who would pitch for Washington, Game 4 between the Cubs and Nationals finally began with Jake Arrieta's first pitch to Trea Turner. The conditions at Wrigley Field are friendly only for pitchers, with a game-time temperature of 59 degrees, 15-mph winds blowing in from the outfield and mist spraying in off the lake. Arrieta seemed unfazed, however, sporting only short sleeves as he worked a scoreless first inning that brought the poncho-clad home crowd to life.

4:04 p.m. ET: Even throw
Usually, the person throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Cubs games throws to one of the relievers. On Wednesday, Rick Sutcliffe threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Vedder is a huge Cubs fan and apparently brought his glove for the game.

3:27 p.m. ET: For starters
Today's starters, Stephen Strasburg and Jake Arrieta, head to the bullpen to warm up for a key Game 4 clash.

2:42 p.m. ET: Baseball in the forecast
Both teams opted not to have batting practice today, so the grounds crew is getting everything ready for first pitch about 90 minutes from now while Wrigley Field organist Gary Pressy serenades the first flock of fans with a Beach Boys classic.

2:03 p.m. ET: Tarp off!
Game 3's summer weather is definitely in the rearview mirror, but it's not raining and there's going to be baseball at Wrigley today.

1:42 p.m. ET: What a difference a day makes
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo held a press conference before Game 4 to explain the decision to have Stephen Strasburg start. According to Rizzo, Strasburg began feeling flu-like symptoms -- "fever, chills, acute sinusitis," Rizzo said -- shortly after his Game 1 start. Strasburg threw his between-starts bullpen session on Monday but had "no endurance" and felt weak, Rizzo said, but received anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics and intravenous fluids the past few days, including Wednesday morning. 

Following Tuesday's rainout, the Nats met in manager Dusty Baker's office and asked Strasburg if he would be available to pitch. At that point, Strasburg told management that he would give them everything he had, but he couldn't say for certain how much he had to give. When they had a similar meeting Wednesday morning, Rizzo said, Strasburg "felt much more like Stephen Strasburg.

"So he came into the clubhouse and went to the manager's office and said that, 'I want to start this game,'" Rizzo said.

1:20 p.m. ET: Maddon: Stras starting doesn't change much
When the Cubs got word that Strasburg was starting for the Nationals in Game 4, manager Joe Maddon simply made a small tweak to his lineup and that was it, saying: "It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. When it comes down to playing the game, our guys will be ready to play. We know what we think we can expect."

Maddon on facing Strasburg

1:15 p.m. ET: Wrigleyville is ready

1:04 p.m. ET: Nats name lineup behind Strasburg
Aside from his starting pitcher, Washington manager Dusty Baker is running out the same lineup he announced on Tuesday against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta.

12:48 p.m. ET: Cubs swap Heyward for Schwarber
With the news that Stephen Strasburg is going to start, Maddon reconfigured his lineup. Jason Heyward will start in right field, Ben Zobrist will slide over to left and Kyle Schwarber is out of the starting lineup. Aside from his stellar defense, Heyward is 15-for-37 (.405) with four doubles, a homer, three walks and four RBIs in his career against Strasburg, while Schwarber has never faced the Washington ace.

12:18 p.m. ET: Wind effects
The rain stopped at Wrigley Field on Wednesday morning, but the weather has definitely changed. Northeast winds at 16 mph will favor the pitchers. This year, the wind blew in at Wrigley Field for 40 games, and the teams combined to score an average of 8.4 runs per game. By comparison, when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley, which it did for 16 games, teams have combined to score 13.4 runs per game. The temperature at Wrigley is 57 degrees, but the wind off Lake Michigan makes it feel a little cooler.

11:37 a.m. ET: It's a Stras world after all?
MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports that Stephen Strasburg, who was feeling "under the weather" on Tuesday, is expected to start Game 4. Tanner Roark was originally slated to start on Tuesday before the game was rained out, and manager Dusty Baker said after the postponement that he would stick with Roark for today's contest.

11:16 a.m. ET: Cubs announce Game 4 lineup
Chicago manager Joe Maddon is sticking with the same lineup he announced on Tuesday.