Because I took a few weeks off, I'm a bit behind on posting. This Topps "Now" card is sooooo two months ago. Well, almost.
In mid-June, the Cubs came to town to play the Washington Nationals. In previous years, I had only been making it to maybe one game in the series, but last year and this year, I took in all the games. Might as well since they only come to town once per season.
The first game was a Max Scherzer-Kyle Hendricks pitcher's duel. Scherzer was perfect through the first 5 1/3 before Addison Russell tied the game with a line drive solo home run. The Nationals tacked on 3 more in the bottom half of the 6th and held that lead the rest of the way. Scherzer finished with 11 strikeouts in 7 innings. I'm not sure how many times the Cubs have gone 5+ innings this season without a hit, but it seems like a lot. Or maybe I'm just watching a lot of Cubs baseball. Luckily, their late inning game is strong.
Game 2 is the subject of this post.
John Lackey pitched a fine game, allowing just two runs in 6+ innings. He left with a 3-1 lead but runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs. Pedro Strop came in to strike out two, but also gave up a sacrifice fly to shrink the lead to one.
In the 8th, Travis Wood allowed a leadoff walk to Bryce Harper and then induced a line out to centerfield. Hector Rondon then came in for the 5-out Save. Unfortunately, a single by Ryan Zimmerman moved Harper to 3rd who scored on another sac fly to tie the game.
Fast forward to the top of the 9th. Addison Russell leads of with a walk. And don't announcers like to talk about how lead off walks come around to bite the pitcher? Grandpa Rossy moved him along to 2nd on a nice sac bunt. Up the plate comes Albert Almora Jr, who had entered the game with Rondon in a double switch. He lines the first pitch he sees into the left-center gap for a double, scoring Russell and giving the Cubs the lead for good. Rondon pitched a 1-2-3 9th for the blown Save and Win.
|2016 Topps Now #152 Albert Almora Jr (Print Run 738)|
It wasn't a walk-off but Topps saw fit to give the rookie a Topps Now card the next day. I was pretty excited for it as I thought it was the first card featuring a game I attended. (Since debunked)
Also of note, Jason Hammel threw a ball to my older son in batting practice.
Speaking of Hammel, he started the rubber game of the series. Unfortunately a lack of run support earned him a no decision in a duel with Stephen Strasburg (who had yet to take his first loss). Both allowed a first inning run and then nothing more until the bullpens stepped in.
The Nats got one off Strop in the 8th, but the Cubs battled back for the lead off an Anthony Rizzo 2-run homer in the 9th. Unfortunately, Rondon blew his 2nd Save of the season (and it just so happened on back-to-back nights) as the Nats tied it up again to send it to extras. Skip ahead to the 12th inning and the Cubs jumped on top again thanks to Almora (again). A lead off single, heads up base running to advance on a wild pitch and then scoring on a Russell single.
The bottom half brought about a bullpen implosion and Jayson Werth had his 2nd walk-off hit of the week. This was also featured as a Topps Now card that I did not pick up. I may try to add one to my new "I Was There" mini collection eventually but I won't be rushing to pick one up.