It poured almost all night at Nationals Park - but the rain didn't start coming down until after the game.
Despite the dire weather predictions, there wasn't a drop until the fans hit the parking lots. The Cubs, however, poured on the offense tonight, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning enroute to an easy 7-0 victory. Happily, it's a fairly simple storyline. Cub hititng came through on its end of the cliched baseball advice that a good team has to do its job against bad pitching.
For the Nationals, starter Matt Chico simply hasn't been a very good pitcher this year. In fact, he probably will be sent down to the minors in the not too distant future. But Chico was only half of the equation. The good news (Geo, can you step out into the hall for a second?) is that the rest of the offense continued to show that they can take advantage of such weakness. Put that behind a very effective performance from Carlos Zambrano, and that's about all she wrote.
The 8 Cub strikeouts stood out a bit on my scorecard, but I suppose that's largely understandable with a big lead against pitching you're not expecting to be very good. I'm not sure, however, that that explains Dome's performance. He struck out twice and was actually down in the count a fair bit tonight - I hope he's not pressing.
Overall, a very nice - if largely workmanlike - night at the ballpark. Really, the only two milestones were Mark DeRosa's 2 RBI single to give the Cubs the early lead, and the completion of the bottom of the 5th inning that ensured the game would stay in the books regardless of the oncoming storm. The crowd was largely quiet all night, except for the noise from Cub fans whenever they scored. I have to say I was stunned, though, at the sheer volume of pro-Cub cheering and clapping with two outs in the ninth - especially since the Nationals haven't been cheered that loudly to close out a ballgame in their own ballpark all year.
Given the relatively straightforward nature of the action tonight, I thought I'd try to give you some slightly different photos from yesterday, including some flavor for the ballpark. I would expect the Nats to be a lot more competitive tomorrow. John Lannan, tomorrow's starter, didn't make the club out of spring training, but he has pitched extremely effectively all year after coming back up. Given Ted Lilly's performances so far, the Sunday game should be far less predictable than the outcome tonight.
Cubs BP, and a view of Nationals Park
Big Z hard at work.
Deuces Wild: Derrek Lee motors to second base on his 2 RBI double in the second inning.
Dome heading out to field
The President's Race. Perennial loser Teddy Roosevelt had the early lead, but was tackled on his way to the finish. I think the whole thing is fixed.