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Nationals 5, Cubs 4: All Of Cubs History In One Game

You can sum up everything we know about being a Cubs fan simply by recounting what went on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

David Banks

The entire essence of being a Cubs fan was summed up perfectly in the Cubs' 5-4, 13-inning loss to the Nationals.

Don't believe me? Consider:

  • First, a long rain delay. Just how long have we been waiting for a World Series title?
  • Then, eight-plus innings of being bad, not accomplishing anything, having just a handful of baserunners and just one past second base. Brief hope with a key member of the team (Starlin Castro) reaching base, only to be caught stealing -- twice. A consolation home run (Brian Bogusevic) producing cheering, only to realize that backs up the knowledge that this is all going to result in failure anyway.
  • Followed by... excitement! Last-minute excitement! Just when all seems lost, an incredible, unexpected rally punctuated by a home run by someone (Donnie Murphy) who wasn't even on the radar screen a month ago, but who has led all National League players in home runs over the last three weeks. Tie game! Another runner in scoring position, poised to win!
  • No win. Extra innings. Hey, free baseball! Fun!
  • More failure. Just one runner reaches base for the Cubs through the 12th inning. But they're managing to keep the other team at bay; maybe there's hope yet!
  • The inevitable defeat happens. And of course, the Cubs lose via the following sequence: a bouncing double that's just barely fair down the left-field line, a sacrifice bunt that almost turned into a double play, followed by an infield out that drove in the eventual decisive run... naturally, hit by a former Cub (Chad Tracy), who couldn't do a thing while he was here, and who has been mostly awful this year in Washington.

If anyone ever asks you to explain the heartbreak of being a Cubs fan, have them watch a tape of this game.

Stephen Strasburg was dominant, all the way up to the time that Donnie Murphy hit the game-tying home run. Even the fun that scored via an overthrow on an infield single by Junior Lake didn't seem to faze Strasburg; there's a runner on first and two out, and he had been cruising until Murphy's blast. Bogusevic's home run appeared, as noted, to be the Cubs' consolation prize, something we're very well used to.

Travis Wood pitched reasonably well, but also got tagged for a pair of home runs, the second one, by Steve Lombardozzi, ruining his quality start. (Yes, I'm setting the bar pretty low here.) At that time, the Nats led 4-0 and the game was cruising along, and even with the two-hour delay, I figured I had a chance of being home by 6 p.m. (More low bar-setting.) Instead, I got almost an hour and a half of extra entertainment. With this season rapidly careening toward 90 defeats, and probably a Cubs team record 50-plus losses at home, I'll take what I can get.

Beyond Castro's bad day -- he also hit into a rally-killing, inning-ending double play in the eighth inning -- Anthony Rizzo went 0-for-5, reaching base on an error in the 13th inning. There's more Cub-fan-summary -- that gave brief hope, before a game-ending double-play ball by Dioner Navarro that was likely only a DP because it was deflected by Nats pitcher Drew Storen.

The bullpen pitched reasonably well until Michael Bowden's 13th inning; before that, the pen combined for 5⅓ scoreless innings with just three hits and a walk allowed and seven strikeouts. Again, this is something that, as has much of Cubs history, given us hope, only to have that hope demolished in a wacky, bizarre, or soul-crushing fashion.

Oh, and the photo I chose for this recap? Yeah, that too. Another summation of how we all feel. Try not to let it get to you. Cubs fans have been doing that for... well, you know how long.