Washington’s 2-1 loss in Game 3 of the NLDS, in a tightly-contested matchup with the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, left them on the brink of elimination, but the Nationals have been here before. Their offense, which has generated just two runs in the series outside of the big five-run eighth in Game 2, struggled again in the loss last night, and has produced a .083 AVG outside of that breakout inning.
Dusty Baker was asked after last night’s loss in Wrigley Field if there was anything he would like to see his hitters do differently, after previously stating that he would like the Nats’ hitters to be more aggressive early in the count.
“Well, you know, I mean, we are usually good at getting multiple hits,” Baker said, “and we couldn’t string together multiple hits. But you know, we know that it’s right around the corner, and our back’s against the wall, so we’ve got to get them tomorrow. We’ve got to get those hits, and hopefully they don’t.”
Max Scherzer, who threw 6 1⁄3 hitless innings last night before giving up a double on his 98th pitch and getting lifted before the Cubs rallied to tie it and went on to win, was asked after the game how the Nationals need to approach Game 4.
“Win the game. What else do you want us to do, we’re going to win the game,” he said.
“I think everybody knows what’s at stake,” Ryan Zimmerman said, after a 1 for 4 game left him 3 for 12 with a double and (big three-run) home run through three games.
“Obviously you’ve got to win or you go home. A lot of us have been here before. When you get to this level, these are the moments you play for and the games you want to be in, and go out there and prepare the best that you can and give yourself the best chance to win.”
“We’ve won two games in a row before. It’s not a record,” Zimmerman added.
“It’s not an ideal situation to be in; obviously, I’d rather be up 2-1. It’s playoff baseball. We’ll come back out tomorrow, play a game, hopefully come out on top and go home and have an exciting Game 5.”
“I tell you what, I thought we took a lot more positive swings with guys in scoring position today, we just didn’t find the holes,” Nats’ catcher Matt Wieters said, after going 0 for 3 (0 for 8 in the series) with a well-struck ball in the fourth that Jon Jay tracked down in right-center field for one of two big catches the Cubs’ outfielders made to take away a potential extra base hits.
An inning before Weiters’ liner, Anthony Rendon hit a line drive to right-center with a runner on third in the third that Jason Heyward caught.
“Tony hit a ball great in the gap and the wind kind of held up,” Wieters said.
“I felt like I hit mine a little better than it went that Jon Jay ran down, we just had some balls that they made plays on.”
“Yeah, those are big,” Baker said of the two catches. “Especially the one by Jay. I thought — you know, you could tell, that ball was coming back to Heyward, but I thought that the one out there to Jay, I thought we had a chance to get a couple runs on that one.
“You know, that saved the game, really, for them, those defensive plays in the outfield.”
The Cubs’ outfielders made some big catches, and one big hit, by Anthony Rizzo in the eighth inning, fell in-between three Nats as Jayson Werth, Michael A. Taylor, and Trea Turner converged on the ball in left-center and had it drop in between them for what ended up being the game-winning hit.
“That ball is kind of in never-never land out there, between three merging players on our team,” Baker told reporters.
“You couldn’t have thrown the ball any better if he had thrown the ball in there.”
With the season on the line after last night’s loss, the Nationals know what they have to do.
“It’s going to be fun,” Bryce Harper (2 for 12, HR) said. “I’m looking forward to it, I think everybody on our team is too. Like [Zimmerman] said we’ve won two before, we’ve faced elimination before as well, so looking forward to going out there tomorrow.”
“We’re right there,” Jayson Werth (1 for 10) said when asked about the offensive issues.
“Playoff games are crazy. Sometimes they’re low-scoring, sometimes they’re high-scoring. It just hasn’t gone our way just yet. We’ve still got a big game tomorrow and get this series back to D.C. I like our chances.”