"What followed was something I don’t think I’ve seen before," Al Yellon wrote in his recap of the Cubs' 6-3 win on Monday.
"If that’s happened before, it’s got to be pretty rare -- a strikeout-throw-out double play to end a game. Nice defensive work there by Contreras and Hoerner."
I can't report how many times previously the Cubs have ended a game as they did in the ninth inning against the Nationals.
To do so would require going through strikeouts with 1 out in the ninth inning or later for every big league team, one by one.
Maybe I will do that in the off season.
But I can report how many times the Cubs have lost a game with the final 2 outs coming on a strikeout-throwout double play:
5 since 1915, the first season for which baseball-reference.com has searchable play-level data.
The last of those 5 was 45 years ago.
Through Monday, Cubs batters have struck out 3,441 times with 1 out in the ninth inning or later: 2,714 in the ninth, 717 in extra innings.
1,542 of those strikeouts, 45 percent, came with a runner on base: 1,225 in the ninth, 317 in extras.
29 times, the Cubs ended an inning with a strikeout and runner caught stealing: 18 in the ninth and 11 in extras.
But 24 of the 29 came with the Cubs ahead or the score tied: 14 in the ninth and 10 in extras.
Of the 5 that ended games, 4 happened in the ninth and 1 in the 10th.
APRIL 14, 1917
The Cubs trailed the Pirates at home, 2-4, as they came to bat in the ninth.
After Vic Saier flied out, Larry Doyle pinch hit and singled for only the fourth hit allowed by Frank Miller.
Dutch Reuther then pinch hit, too, the Chicago Tribune said. "[A]fter working Miller for the count of three and two with only one out he took one a big high and on the outside for a third strike and Doyle was doubled at second, thus ending the game."
JUNE 15, 1934
The host Cubs took a 3-1 lead into the ninth against the Phillies. Lon Warneke retired the first 2 batters, then issued a walk and served up a game-tying home run to Dolph Camilli.
In the 10th, a single, a bunt, an infield hit, a wild pitch and an intentional walk loaded the bases. Dick Bartell's sacrifice fly put the Phillies ahead.
Babe Phelps delivered a 1-out pinch-hit single in the Cubs' half, then gave way to pinch runner Augie Galan.
George Darrow took over on the mound and walked Chuck Klein, bringing up Riggs Stephenson.
"Stevie fanned and Galan was doubled trying to steal third on the final strike," said the Tribune. "The Cubs gave Umpire Moran a big argument about the decision on the steal, but to all appearances the veteran guesser was right for once."
JULY 20, 1960
After Glenn Hobbie pitched a 2-hit shutout in Game 1 of a Wednesday doubleheader at Cincinnati, the Reds tallied 3 runs in the first inning of Game 2 on a home run by Wally Post.
The Cubs closed to within 2-4 on Bob Will's solo homer in the sixth, then to within 3-4 the next inning, on singles by Ed Bouchee and George Altman, a bunt and a fly ball by Grady Hatton.
With 1 out in the ninth, the Tribune wrote, "Bouchee singled and took third on Altman's third hit, a pop single to center. But it was all over when [Don] Zimmer fanned and Altman was doubled at second on the run and hit."
AUGUST 23, 1967
At Pittsburgh, the Pirates tallied single runs in the first and second. The Cubs scored once in the fifth, on singles by Clarence Jones, Randy Hundley and pitcher Bill Hands.
The score still was 2-1 when Ernie Banks led off the ninth with a single, the Cubs' eighth hit, none for extra bases.
After Jones flied out, "Randy Hundley fanned as Banks took out for second base. This race was a mismatch from the moment Hundley missed. Banks was out by 10 feet and the game was over" -- after just 1 hour and 50 minutes.
JUNE 18, 1977
A third-inning run off Tommy John gave the Cubs a lead at Los Angeles.
In the fourth, Bill Russell of the Dodgers tripled with 1 out. Bill Bonham coaxed a ground ball on which Russell held at third, but Ron Cey followed with a 2-strike home run.
The 2-1 score remained the same through the eighth.
Bill Buckner grounded out against John to start the ninth. Bobby Murcer then singled.
Jerry Morales worked the count to 3 and 2, then swung and missed. Murcer, off on the pitch, was gunned down and the Cubs were beaten.
Since that day, the Cubs have been victims of strikeout-throw-out double plays in the ninth inning 7 times, including twice when the score was tied: 2-2 at Colorado on Aug. 20, 1995, and 4-4 at home against the Astros on July 24, 2011.
They have made 2 outs on a strikeout and steal attempt 6 more times in extra innings:
July 6, 1980, 16th inning, 4-4 at Pittsburgh
Aug. 17, 1982, 13th inning, 1-1 at home vs. Dodgers
May 9, 1985, 12th inning, 0-0 at San Francisco
June 2, 1988, 12th inning, 1-1 at New York vs. Mets
May 24, 2008, 12th inning, 4-4 at Pittsburgh
June 7, 2009, 11th inning, 3-3 at Cincinnati
In the 1988 game, the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out on a single by Vance Law, a double by Damon Berryhill and an intentional walk. After Jody Davis fanned, Manny Trillo pinch hit. He took 3 balls from Randy Myers, then 2 strikes.
On the next pitch, Manager Don Zimmer sent the runners.
"Trillo swung and missed," the Tribune explained. "And Law, after a brief rundown, was an easy out at the plate."
In the 2009 game, the Cubs had runners on first and second when Ryan Theriot struck out and Henry Blanco was gunned down at third.
In the most recent game, in 2011, Carlos Pena struck out and Starlin Castro was thrown out at second.