Nationals even series against Cubs thanks to Stephen Strasburg and Michael A. Taylor

A late grand slam sealed things for Washington.

If you’re an offensive-minded person who likes lots of dingers and players crossing home plate, then not much happened in this game.

But if you like pitchers shoving and minimal runs scored and keeping an eye out for a starter who might or might not puke while throwing a shutout, then this game was for you.

The Nationals forced a Game 5 in the NLDS with a 5-0 win in Game 4 Wednesday, after both teams waited an extra day to play after Tuesday’s rainout.

The first run came courtesy of an error by the Cubs’ Addison Russell on a Ryan Zimmerman hit in the top of the third that sent Trea Turner home and put Washington in the lead. There would be no other runs scored until the eighth inning.

The real show was on the mound, though, with not one, not two, but THREE separate pitchers having a great day, and at least one of them doing it while suffering through the flu.

Jake Arrieta put together a four-inning, two-hit game and let up only one run. He struck out four and walked five, and was pulled from the game, despite his performance, thanks to a high pitch count. He finished his outing with 90 pitches and made way for Jon Lester to pitch an impressive relief appearance.

Lester, who was otherwise lined up to start Game 5, pitched 3.2 innings of one-run relief. He let up only one hit on the mound, and started his relief stint by going ten-up-ten-down. Most importantly, he PICKED SOMEBODY OFF. f


Even with that momentous occasion, Stephen Strasburg topped them all with a shutout performance that will go in the history books. For talent reasons, but also because he reportedly had the flu and almost didn’t even start.

Strasburg pitched seven innings, allowing no hits and no runs. He struck out 12 batters and walked just two. And he did it all on only 106 pitches, flying through innings with efficiency. Maybe he just really needed to puke and wanted to make sure he wasn’t on the mound for too long at once.

After this outing, Strasburg owns the lowest postseason ERA of any pitcher to pitch three games or more in the playoffs at just 0.47. That’s bonkers. He became the first National League pitcher since Bob Gibson in the 1968 World Series to strike out 10 or more batters in multiple games in the same playoff series. He’s just beyond.

As of the eighth inning, Washington’s one run would have been enough to win thanks to Strasburg’s performance. But Michael A. Taylor decided to give his team not just an insurance run but an insurance SLAM.

The Cubs brought in reliever Wade Davis in the middle of the at-bat to face Taylor, and as you can tell things went poorly. It was the first time the Nationals had ever hit a postseason grand slam, whether in their current incarnation or as the Expos. Davis had never given up a postseason grand slam in a playoff relief appearance before, and had allowed only one in his entire career.

That gave the Nationals some comfort and they took it home from there, for the most part. The Cubs threatened in the bottom of the eighth, but couldn’t make anything happen. It was a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for Sean Doolittle, and the game was in the books without any last-minute stress for Nationals fans.

At this point in the series, Washington has scored nine runs in the eighth inning and only three runs in every other inning combined.

But there will be a Game 5 after all, and it will come down to which team can finally put runs on the board or completely keep them off of it for the other team. In each game so far, no teams have been able to figure out their offense at the same time.