Cubs look for 2-0 lead with Lester starting

Cubs look for 2-0 lead with Lester starting”

"He knows what he's doing". They finished with just two in a game ruled by starting pitching, pointing to the offense as rendering the other close plays moot.

With him, Washington has won four NL East titles in the past six seasons, but all they have to show for it are NLDS exits in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Hendricks also knew he had to be at his best to beat Strasburg. It was constructed by two hitters who Strasburg had completely locked up - like, in-a-safe-and-thrown-to-the-bottom-of-a-lake locked up - in their previous two at-bats.

But this was Hendricks' time to shine.

Washington manager Dusty Baker said the club wanted to be cautious with Scherzer, who won the National League Cy Young Award a year ago.

Until Friday night, Strasburg's postseason legacy was that he barely had one at all. Rizzo saw five straight strikes - fouling off three fastballs - before he whiffed on a curve.

The Cubs will counter with Jon Lester, who is 13-8 this season with a 4.33 ERA but has a career 2.63 ERA in the postseason. Washington is 0-4 in Gonzalez's last 4 starts against Chicago. Anthony Rendon hits third, followed by Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman. Manager Joe Maddon often says that to win, "you have to pitch better than good pitching".

While Strasburg was no-hitting the Cubs into the sixth, Hendricks was holding the Nats at bay.

"I think he was really in a rhythm", Bryant said. Hendricks, whose fastball sits in the high 80s, had allowed two hits, but flummoxed the Nationals' lineup with a mixture of movement and location. "We're so excited to have them back". Next up, Anthony Rizzo knocked an RBI single as well, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead and officially delivering the Bryzzo connection.

With a heavy beard and a lot of sweat on a muggy, 77-degree night, Strasburg dialed up his fastball to 98 miles per hour and mixed in an unhittable changeup. 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. And while he set a Washington Nationals franchise postseason record with 10 strikeouts and didn't allow an earned run, the Chicago Cubs got the timely hits to steal Game 1 of this NLDS, 3-0.

Strasburg said he tried his best to pick up Rendon, but Rizzo singled to right just in front of Harper, who missed 42 games with a hyperextended left knee and returned last week. The Cubs seemed listless most of this season, but they turned it on late and have looked like the Cubs we all knew over the last month.

"It was", Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said, "a masterpiece".

To make matters worse the Nationals suspended assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones for legal issues just before the game. As a team, the Cubs batted.255, had a.338 OBP and scored 822 runs. The 42-year-old Jones retired as a player in 2008 after 10 years with four teams.

General manager Mike Rizzo said the team would not decide on a Game 2 starter until later Thursday.

Javier Baez, the Cubs' co-NLCS MVP previous year with Jon Lester (who will start Game 2), sent a grounder to Anthony Rendon at third. Ninety-three years ago, Washington ace Walter Johnson led the American League with a 2.72 ERA.

Max Scherzer is dealing with tightness in his right hamstring and was pushed back to later in the series, which means Stephen Strasburg gets the call to start Game 1 on Friday.

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