NLDS shifts to decisive game five

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Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester throws a pitch in game four of the National League Division Series Wednesday. The Cubs lost the game 5-0.

Eddie Garcia

The Cubs got shutout in game four of the National League Division Series but will have a good chance to win game five Thursday if they keep up the consistent starting pitching and get the bats going.

Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg tossed a gem as he went seven shutout innings while striking out twelve in his team’s 5-0 win over the Cubs.

Strasburg has been dominant against the Cubs in this series and has pitched 14 innings, recording 22 strikeouts while allowing just six hits and no earned runs, but Strasburg can’t pitch every game, and the Cubs need to take advantage.

Game five of the series is set to be Thursday night in Washington as the Cubs may have to see Nationals pitchers Gio Gonzalez and two-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.

Gonzalez tossed five innings in game two of the series as he allowed three runs while striking out six in a no decision. The Nationals went on to win that game because of the Cubs’ inability to score runs.

The Cubs were held to just three total hits in game four, which should come as no surprise as they came into the game hitting .179 as a team, according to ESPN.

Without the bats, the Cubs could see their season come to an end sooner than later. However, the Cubs need to continue the consistent starting pitching.

If the Cubs want any chance at winning game five, they need to activate their bats, starting at the top of the order with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.

Bryant and Rizzo went a combined 0-for-7 with six strikeouts and a walk in the 5-0 loss.

This needs to change if the Cubs want to see any production against Gonzalez or Scherzer in game five.

“We have to be better in the zone,” Maddon said. “We have to force their pitchers in the zone more consistently and not miss your pitch when you see it. It really comes down to that. I don’t know what the weather is specifically going to be like tomorrow night.”

Consistency on the mound is the other vital factor to them winning game five. The starting pitching has been consistent, with Arrieta going four innings and allowing only one run and two hits.

Starting pitcher Jon Lester was brought into the game in the bottom of the fifth inning in relief of Arrieta and went 3.1 innings with one run allowed.

Maddon’s decision to remove Lester in the eighth was debatable. Lester was pitching lights out as he went three and 2/3 innings, striking out three hitters, and allowing no runs until the grand slam occurred off of Cubs closing pitcher Wade Davis.

Maddon said it was pre-planned to go to Lester over starting pitcher Jose Quintana.

“The fact that he was available; you know, we could have done him or Quintana,” Maddon said. “He pitched before [Quintana], so we went with him first. We didn’t know exactly where [Arietta] was going to be tonight, so we talked about that in advance. Now, when that showed up, if this score was like we’re losing 4-0, he would not have pitched tonight. It would have been Montgomery and the rest of the bullpen.”

The Cubs will send out their game one starter Kyle Hendricks, who threw seven shutout innings while striking out six batters in game one Oct. 6.

Hendricks was able to string out the win as the Cubs scored two runs in the sixth and one in the eighth for the 3-0 shutout win.

The Cubs were shutout in game four, but with Hendricks on the mound, one or two runs may be enough to advance to the NLCS.

This will be the second NLDS game five in Cubs history. The only time other time they have been here was when current Nationals manager Dusty Baker was their manager in 2003 against the Atlanta Braves.

The Cubs will look to close out the series for game five 7:08 p.m. Thursday at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.