Cubs Win Epic Game 5 After Everything Unravels For Nationals In INSANE 5th Inning (VIDEOS + GIFs)
It the olden days it was the Chicago Cubs who always seemed to be on the losing end of wacky baseball randomness. But not anymore.
On Thursday night, the star-studded Nationals failed to advance past the divisional round of the MLB playoffs for what feels like the 20th time since the franchise relocated to Washington, losing another insane Game 5 thanks in part to one of the weirdest half innings in baseball history.
In the top of the fifth, with the Nats up 4-3 and the heart of the Cubs’ order coming to the plate, manager Dusty Baker brought reigning NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer in from the bullpen. That was supposed to lock things down until the Nats could get to their trusted late-inning relievers.
Things started off as well as any Nats fan could have hoped. Scherzer got reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant to ground out, then he got Anthony Rizzo to line out to center. Two quick outs.
Unfortunately for Scherzer, the next batter, Wilson Contreras, singled. Then pinch-hitter Ben Zobrist singled. Then Addison Russell hit a two-run double down the third base line. Cubs up 5-4.
That’s when everything fell apart.
After intentionally walking Jason Heyward, Scherzer got up 0-2 on Javier Baez. He was one strike away from getting out of the inning. But then, this:
At first glance that just looks like a passed ball and a horrible two-run throwing error from Nationals catcher Matt Wieters. But upon closer inspection there’s more to it.
Baez clearly hit Wieters’ mask on his backswing:
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 13, 2017
That should have changed everything. According to official MLB rules, the ball should have been dead, meaning no runners should have been allowed to advance.
I don’t want to be an alarmist, but… it would appear they seriously messed that up. pic.twitter.com/0aABJlzGkC
— Jeff Long (@JeffLongBP) October 13, 2017
At that point—after three hits, an intentional walk, a passed ball, an error, and a blown call—you might think things couldn’t possibly have gotten any worse. But they did.
The next batter, Tommy La Stella, got to take first base after Wieter’s was called for catcher interference. That loaded the bases for Jon Jay, who Scherzer then hit with a pitch to bring home another run and make it 7-4.
According to the statheads at Baseball-Reference, until Thursday night, there had never in the history of Major League Baseball been a half inning with an (1) intentional walk, (2) passed ball strikeout, (3) catcher’s interference, and (4) hit by pitch.
None of the 2.73m half innings in our db have even had all 4 of these events. 22 w/ 3. Only 5 games had all 4.https://t.co/ntifpJIb6n
— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) October 13, 2017
And that wasn’t even the end of it for the Nationals!
In the bottom of the eighth, with the Cubs now up 9-8, the Nats had runners on first and second with two outs when Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras fired a pickoff throw down to first base. After initially being ruled safe, Cubs manager Joe Maddon challenged the call, and the replay review showed the runner, Jose Lobaton, came off the bag for a split second.
Inning over. Game over. Cubs win the longest nine-inning playoff game in MLB history by the score of 9-8 to advance to their third straight NLCS.
The Nationals, meanwhile, have made the playoffs four times in the past six years. In those four seasons they won 98, 96, 95, and 97 games respectively. And yet they still have not won a postseason series.
Three of their four divisional round losses came in Game 5. In 2012, they had a 7-5 lead over the Cardinals heading into the ninth inning, gave up four runs and lost 9-7. Nobody thought it could possibly get any worse than that. But baseball, uh, finds a way.
Hat Tip – [Deadspin]