I don't want to overreact too much to one game, but man last night went as badly as it possibly could've for the Washington Nationals. I'll admit, I picked them to win this round (AND advance to the World Series, gulp). Yesterday I wrote a blog wondering if the Cubs were going to fall victim to the championship hangover. They kinda did, at least in the first half when they went 43-45.
They rallied in the second half though, finishing the regular season 49-25, basically winning two out of every three games down the stretch. Even with that impressive finish I felt it was fair to questions the Cubs' readiness for October. They no longer had the rallying cry of "breaking the curse" and are fresh off back-to-back deep post-season runs.
So far that's looking foolish. Kyle Hendricks eviscerated the powerful Washington lineup last night. "The Professor" allowed just two hits over seven innings, both singles. Stephen Strasburg was also great, but his defense let him down and he yielded two unearned runs to take the loss. It was a classic Nationals playoff loss.
Game 2 now becomes a must win game for Washington on their home field, and if they pull it out I still like their chances this series. The matchup tonight is Gio Gonzalez (5th in the NL in ERA this year) versus Jon Lester. Obviously Lester has been nails in the playoffs throughout his career, but he finished the 2017 regular season pitching as poorly as he ever had. From July through the end of the regular season Lester put up a 5.17 ERA with a 4.69 FIP.
And if the Nats win? They'll have Max Scherzer going in Game 3. Even with his hamstring injury it's tough not to feel good about having him on the mound. Maybe? I don't know, I'm already talking myself out of the Nats. The Cubs are the champs for a reason, and they reminded us why last night.
Also, for anyone wanting a thorough breakdown of this series, check out the Red Line Radio Podcast here. They absolutely nailed what would happen in Game 1. I learn more about baseball by listening to Carl and Dave than almost any other podcast. I highly recommend.