Bryce Harper clubs a majestic two run home run off of Chicago’s Carl Edwards Jr. in last night’s Nationals’ 6-3 win over the Cubs. Washington’s victory evened the NLDS between the teams at one win each.
The despair and gloom from Friday seemed to be lingering into Saturday as the Nationals were six outs away from falling behind the Chicago Cubs 2-0 in opening round of the playoffs. But in what seemed to be an instant, elation and hope replaced gloom and despair as the Nats scored five runs in the eighth inning to shock the Cubs with a 6-3 victory that left Nats’ fans cheering long after the last out of the game was recorded. Here’s a look at a few notable numbers coming out of Washington’s thrilling victory.
Washington’s eighth inning heroics would not have mattered if not for the sterling efforts of relievers Matt Albers, Sammy Solis, Ryan Madson and Oliver Perez who kept the Cubs scoreless from the sixth through eighth frames. Veteran lefty Perez recorded the biggest outs during those innings, getting Cubs’ star Anthony Rizzo to ground into an inning ending double play the keep the score 3-1 going into the bottom of the eighth.
Ryan Zimmerman had two hits, including the game-winning three run home run, continuing his success at bat in the post-season. In 50 post season at bats, Zimmerman is hitting .340 with three doubles, three home runs and nine runs driven in. Zimmerman’s home run was his first in the playoffs since October 12, 2012 when he hit a two run first inning round-tripper off of St. Louis Adam Wainwright.
One of the under the radar stars of the Nationals’ 2017 season has been Adam Lind, and the veteran bench player did his job again last night to spark Washington’s five run rally. Lind led off the inning with a pinch-hit single off of Carl Edwards, continuing a trend of productivity for the left-handed hitter when he’s the first up in an inning. During the regular season, Lind posted an excellent .911 OPS when he was the first hitter in a frame.
Lind’s single off of Edwards came on an 0-2 pitch, and getting a favorable result even when in a most unfavorable count is another area Lind excelled in during the 2017 season. His .649 OPS in 0-2 counts was the 22nd highest in the Major Leagues among hitters with at least 30 at bats in such situations. Only Howie Kendrick (.802 and fifth in the Majors) and Bryce Harper (.775, seventh in the Majors) rank higher than Lind in that category among Nationals players.
Crucial to keeping the score close enough for the Nats to make their magical comeback was Washington’s turning three double plays to frustrate potential rallies by the Cubs. The three double plays turned was the most by the Nationals in their 16 post-season games. Prior to last night, the team record was two double plays converted (which the team did in both Game 1 and Game 3 of the 2012 NLDS against St. Louis).
Harper’s electrifying home run was the first the Nats’ slugger hit in 60 days, dating back to his first inning blast against Miami’s Odisamer Despaigne on August 7th at Nationals Park. Harper’s last road homer came at Wrigley Field on August 5th against the Cubs’ John Lackey.