Weather: 87 degrees, Partly Cloudy.
Wind: 7 mph, R To L.
Umpires: HP--Wolf, 1B--Lentz, 2B--Iassogna, 3B--Holbrook.
Things did not begin well.
Veteran Nats starter Jeremy Hellickson, who depends on command to make up for the lack of an imposing fastball, walked the first 3 Chicago batters he faced, throwing only 2 strikes in the process and generating early action in the home team bullpen. He hit Willson Contreras with a pitch later in the frame, but after a double play managed to escape with only a single run on the board.
Hellickson then stopped walking people and started allowing extra-base hits, allowing single runs in the 2nd and 3rd. Kyle McGowin made his season debut for the Nats in the 4th and continued the trend. Meanwhile, Washington didn’t get a runner on base against Kyle Hendricks until Rendon drew a four-pitch walk with 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th.
Things started to look up an inning later, as McGowin retired the visitors in order and the Nats ended the no-hitter and shutout on singles by Suzuki and Parra followed by a Dozier groundout. Unfortunately there would be no shutdown inning, as the Cubs responded with 2 runs in an ugly top of the 6th, during which McGowin uncorked two wild pitches and was charged with an error on Hendricks’ bunt. This was especially painful since Washington finally figured out the Cubs’ starter in the bottom of the inning, but they still trailed by 2 runs after Rendon’s 3-run blast.
Howie Kendrick cut the deficit to one with a leadoff HR after the seventh-inning stretch, and the Washington bullpen blanked the Cubs over the final 3 innings, but they were matched by Chicago’s Steve Cishek, who notched a rare 7-out save, allowing only one hit in the process.
While we were not happy earlier in the week to hear that the game had been chosen by ESPN for its Sunday night broadcast, the decision worked out well, given how hot it was in the afternoon. Things were much more comfortable for the 7:05 start, especially in the shade.