The Cubs held off the Nationals, 9-8, in the win-or-go-home Game 5 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile. MLB.com was on the scene in and around Nationals Park on Thursday night.
Postgame: Cubs manager Joe Maddon on Wade Davis' seven-out save
"I was prepared to use Wade for six, but what's the difference between six and seven outs, right? ... That's one of the most incredible victories I've ever been part of. I know a lot of people are probably saying the same thing, but under the circumstances, in the other team's ballpark, after a tough loss at home, to come back and do that, give our guys all the credit in the world."
12:29 a.m. ET: Nats pull to within a run Michael A. Taylor added to the splendor of his postseason (second consecutive game with at least four RBIs) and cut the Nationals' deficit to 9-8 with his two-out, eighth-inning single off Wade Davis. But the Cubs avoided any further damage when a replay-review reversal resulted in Jose Lobaton being picked off first base with two on and two outs. After Cubs catcher Willson Contreras made a snap throw to Anthony Rizzo, Lobaton's right foot appeared to come off the base after first making contact with it ahead of Rizzo's tag.
12:24 a.m. ET: Toughness behind the plate
Home-plate umpire Jerry Layne was struck directly in the face mask on the first pitch Davis threw to Taylor in the eighth inning, a 93.9-mph fastball that eluded Contreras. There was a brief on-field delay as the umpires met and a trainer tended to the veteran crew chief, but Layne took his place back behind the plate to finish the eighth, with the Cubs holding a 9-8 lead.
Two on, two out in the seventh and the Cubs are bringing in Wade Davis with a 9-7 lead. Seven-out save?
11:18 p.m. ET: We got a ballgame again
After his defensive miscue allowed the Cubs to add on in the top of the sixth, Jayson Werth started the Nationals' two-run rally in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to 8-6. Werth drew a two-out walk, raced to third base on Bryce Harper's double and scored when Mike Montgomery uncorked a wild pitch while delivering ball four to Ryan Zimmerman. Daniel Murphy followed with an opposite-field RBI double and Anthony Rendon was intentionally walked to bring Matt Wieters to the plate as the potential go-ahead run. Wieters' bid to extend the rally evaporated when Jason Heyward chased down his liner toward the right-field corner. According to Statcast™, it was a 4-Star catch for Heyward, with 41 percent catch probability.
10:14 p.m. ET: Cubs go mad on Max
The Nationals called on Max Scherzer in the fifth inning to protect a one-run lead. The home crowd greeted the Nats ace with a thunderous ovation and kept roaring as he retired Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Then everything began to unravel for Washington as seven straight Cubs reached base. Addison Russell gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead with a double to the left-field corner. Then it got really out of hand for Scherzer and catcher Matt Wieters with the following sequence: intentional walk, passed-ball strikeout, pinch-hit catcher's interference and a run-scoring hit-by-pitch. Scherzer finally escaped the inning, but not before allowing four runs -- more than he allowed in all but five of his 31 starts this season -- as the Cubs built a 7-4 lead. More >>
I have never seen a sequence like this... probably because I'm guessing literally no one has ever seen a sequence like this, ever. pic.twitter.com/rlkEteveUk
9:05 p.m. ET: Nats hammer Hendricks, take 4-1 lead
Daniel Murphy and Michael A. Taylor created some instant offense for the Nationals with powerful swings against Kyle Hendricks in a four-run second inning. Murphy opened the frame by drilling an elevated first-pitch sinker an estimated 403 feet (per Statcast™) into the right-center-field seats. It was his eighth career postseason homer, but the first since hitting one in seven of his first nine playoff games for the Mets in 2015. Taylor added to Hendricks' trouble when he drilled a three-run shot a projected 415 feet into the left-center-field seats. Taylor had hit his first career postseason homer when he greeted Cubs closer Wade Davis with a grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 4.
8:42 p.m. ET: Baez's throw nullifies Turner
The Cubs expected Trea Turner's speed would make him a threat if he reached base, as he did with a leadoff single in the first inning. Turner promptly stole second base despite Willson Contreras' 82.8-mph throw from his knees. Turner advanced to third base on a well-struck lineout by Jayson Werth. With Bryce Harper batting, the Cubs drew their infield in -- and the move paid off. Harper hit a ground ball to second base, and Javier Baez fired an 86.2-mph throw to Contreras, who quickly tagged out Turner -- who reached a maximum sprint speed of 29.4 feet/second -- to cut down the potential tying run at the plate.
8:16 p.m. ET: Jay deja vu
Cubs left fielder Jon Jay, who coincidentally led off Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against Gio Gonzalez, got things started with a double to right field. Jay's line drive was the first hit from the leadoff spot all series for the Cubs; he, Ben Zobrist and Albert Almora Jr. went a combined 0-for-13 in the first four games. The Nationals challenged whether Jay was safe after sliding into second base, but the initial call stood after review. One batter into the game, Washington lost one of its two challenges. Jay advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Anthony Rizzo's groundout to second base.
Five years ago today ... at the top was Jay
On Oct. 12, 2012, Jay was the Cardinals' leadoff man when St. Louis beat Washington -- which started Gonzalez -- in Game 5 of the NLDS, 9-7, to advance. On Thursday, Jay was slotted at leadoff for the Cubs in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals and Gonzalez.
Coincidence? Manager Joe Maddon didn't bring up 2012 as the reason for Jay at the top, just saying he likes what Jay has done this season. Jay was 1-for-7 in the NLDS entering Game 5. -- Carrie Muskat
7:05 p.m. ET: Band meeting
The Cubs are staying loose before Game 5.
Maddon: All hands on deck
In Game 4, Maddon called on starter Jon Lester to pitch in relief. For Game 5, Jose Quintana has the role of long reliever if starter Kyle Hendricks has trouble early against the Nationals.
"I think you have to give Kyle more leeway tonight based on the cachet that he's built," Maddon said. "There's no sixth game. Last year, there was no eighth game [in the World Series]. You have to try to make your best guess. Part of it is getting guys warmed up in time."
Maddon said everyone was ready Thursday.
"It's all hands on deck tonight," he said. "Everybody is ready to roll." -- Carrie Muskat
5:47 p.m. ET: Getting comfy in enemy territory
Surviving three straight elimination games en route to the title last year should make tonight's winner-take-all game slightly less nerve-wracking for Cubs fans.
Jon Jay, LF
Kris Bryant, 3B
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Willson Contreras, C
Albert Almora Jr., CF
Addison Russell, SS
Jason Heyward, RF
Javier Baez, 2B
Kyle Hendricks, P
Trea Turner, SS
Jayson Werth, LF
Bryce Harper, RF
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Matt Wieters, C
Michael A. Taylor, CF
Gio Gonzalez, P
3:27 p.m. ET: All quiet, for now
It's cloudy and cool but dry at Nationals Park. The forecast calls for a game-time temperature of 62 degrees, which should be comfortable for the fans. Also good news for fans: the Metrorail will stay open later to accommodate them.
2:45 p.m. ET: For starters, Nats tab Gio
The Nationals have announced that Gio Gonzalez will get the start tonight. The left-hander took a no-decision in Game 2, allowing three hits and three earned runs while striking out six over five innings of Washington's 6-3 win.