The long wait is over as the Chicago Cubs started their title defense on Friday night. And it started off in annoying fashion as Stephen Strasburg kept mowing down Cubs hitters, no-hitting them through the first half of the game.
And then things happened. Javier Baez forced an error from Anthony Rendon, a presumptive MVP candidate who may get more votes than an equally deserving Kris Bryant (believe it or not). And the Cubs finally broke through twice with a Bryant hit and another one from Anthony Rizzo to get on the board and break up both the no-hitter and the shutout.
Later on, the Cubs tacked on another insurance run as Rizzo once again got a double after a great at-bat to score Jon Jay. The Cubs were able to run out their best defensive lineup for the rest of the game, riding nasty pitches from Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis to end the game.
The hero of the night has to be Kyle Hendricks, who pitched seven scoreless innings to save the bullpen and only have Edwards and Davis throw relatively stress free single innings. The Nationals relievers, on the other hand, had to work quite a bit in their innings, so at least two guys are probably not as available in Game Two. Strasburg was only removed because of a pinch hit situation, although he probably could have pitched the entire game due to how easily he was cruising.
The offense was just good enough, the pitching and defense were plenty good enough, and the Cubs get a 1-0 NLDS lead to take away home field advantage. Here’s to another victory.