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Hendricks outworks Strasburg; Cubs pounce on error to win Game 1

07 October 2017

And the Cubs had turned that inning-opening error into a 2-0 lead.

SCHERZER IN GAME 3: Two-time Cy Young Award victor Max Scherzer is scheduled to pitch Game 3 of Washington's NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs, after Gio Gonzalez starts Game 2.

Anthony Rizzo then lined a hit to right field, but Bryce Harper couldn't come up with the ball, and Rizzo had an RBI single.

Down the stretch, right-hander Kyle Hendricks had a lot to do with it. And they were going to need their guy to match the much-ballyhooed Strasburg pitch for pitch.

Hendricks outpitched Strasburg in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, giving up only two hits in seven innings to help the Chicago Cubs open defense of their first World Series title in 108 years by beating the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Friday night.

Also in Chicago's bullpen, in a mild surprise, is left-hander Justin Wilson, who had a 5.09 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Cubs after arriving from the Detroit Tigers in a trade. In 2012, having won a still-standing franchise record of 98 games (even including the Expos years) Washington's front office chose to shut down the completely healthy staff ace, Stephen Strasburg. He carried a no-hitter through the first five innings and dealt with only two worrisome moments in that time. It's about catching the ball, which Washington didn't do well all season (minus-37 runs saved, worst among playoff teams), and which Rendon didn't do when he needed to. "He's an ace for a reason. You just think about postseason".

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"I mean, you're aware of it".

"Guys look comfortable, guys look happy, which is always a good thing", said veteran starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who donned "Game Of Thrones" gear with his teammates after a recent win over the Mets in NY. I don't think we had an extra-base hit, if I'm not mistaken.

That's a solid single the other way in an 0-2 count on a 96.2 miles per hour pitch running back in on his hands.

"Maybe not best ever but it was up there", said Hendricks of his performance. His postseason history, meanwhile, is checkered: four starts, none of which went past the fifth inning, including his lone turn a year ago in the NLDS against the Dodgers, in which he labored through 4 1/3 unremarkable innings. "The game was 0-0".

The 27-year old is entering his prime with his future securely set in Chicago, showing more of his potential with each passing start. The game was tight.

"He was tricking us tonight", Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, "and seems like those kind of guys give us more trouble than guys who throw hard". When Rendon fielded the ball with his left hand across his body, third base umpire Laz Diaz signalled the ball fair.

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"We haven't done it enough to get used to it", he said.

In a postseason where Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Sonny Gray, Zack Greinke, and Luis Severino have all been knocked out of starts early, these two pitchers reminded everyone that pitching is still relevant in baseball.

Hendricks did not give up a hit after the second inning. Outfielders are Albert Almora Jr., Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Leonys Martin, and Jon Jay. Strasburg thrilled the crowd by taking the gem into the sixth, and by whiffing 10 Cubs.

"That sounds really good", catcher Willson Contreras said, "especially [after] winning the first game".

The Nats, down 1-0 in this best-of-five National League Division Series after a bitter 3-0 defeat, are going to be fighting for their very playoff lives.

If you do not have access to a cable provider, Sling TV offers a free seven-day trial of either the Sling Orange or Sling Blue packages. "We'll be better [Saturday]".

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