The Chicago Cubs were down 6-1 in the fifth inning when most of its fanbase was ready to check out for the game. Then came a stunning 5-run comeback to tie the game at six. With the bullpen performing well as of late, anyone watching the game would think the Cubs might have a shot to actually pull out a win. The final score being 11-6 in the Nationals favor states otherwise. The blow that put the Nats up for good came from former Cub Scott Hairston.
In his 20th game with the Nats, it was Hairston’s ninth homer of the year and 11th pinch-hit homer of his career. After the Cubs intentionally walked Jayson Werth, Hairston stepped in and smoked a 1-2 changeup deep into the left-field seats, and the Nats put to bed any chance of the Cubs pulling off their largest come-from-behind win of the season (the previous high was four runs, against the Reds on May 26).
“I’m not going to let Werth beat you in that situation,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “We weren’t in the position to match up there with guys down, but the guy hasn’t had an RBI since he was over there. We got him to two strikes and, once again, just couldn’t put him away.”
Jake Arrieta, who had been sparkling in his first two Cubs starts, got the team in that early 6-1 hole by walking four and allowing a three-run home run Werth.
“You give guys free passes, you get guys to the plate like Werth, you put them in a hitter-friendly count, they can do some damage,” Arrieta said.
“I didn’t do my job tonight,” Arrieta said. “I had enough weapons tonight to pitch deep into the game and get our team a win and I wasn’t able to do that.”
So what was up with Dale Sveum doing an about-face and putting Starlin Castro in the leadoff spot and having Anthony Rizzo hit second?
Manager Dale Sveum said he wanted to help Starlin Castro “get his swagger back” and didn’t want Anthony Rizzo to “have to think about being ‘the guy.’ ’’
“Hopefully, we get [Castro] and Rizzo feeling good going into the winter,” Sveum said.
My first thought was that the front office encouraged Dale to get Starlin and Rizzo the most at bats possible, and that putting Starlin 8th in the batting order wasn’t the best way to make that happen.