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Cubs 5, Nationals 1: Drew Smyly and Dansby Swanson lead a team effort

Yan Gomes had to leave the game, but his injury doesn’t appear serious.

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

After a rough weekend in Miami, Monday’s 5-1 Cubs win over the Nationals was just the sort of game to get this team back on the right track.

The Cubs got outstanding pitching from Drew Smyly yet again — seven innings, six hits, one run, no walks — and a 3-for-5 night from Dansby Swanson, including a home run, though he also got himself a cut on the forehead [VIDEO].

It looked like Swanson’s helmet came off, bounced against Nats shortstop CJ Abrams’ leg, and then cut Swanson on the forehead. Fortunately, this wasn’t anything serious and he stayed in the game.

Before that, the Cubs had taken a 2-0 lead in the first inning. With two out, Cody Bellinger singled and stole second. Seiya Suzuki singled him in [VIDEO].

Suzuki then scored on Trey Mancini’s double [VIDEO].

In the bottom of the first, a backswing from Jeimer Candelario hit Yan Gomes in the head. Gomes had to leave the game [VIDEO].

The Cubs said he was being “evaluated,” and this postgame report sounds somewhat encouraging:

Hopefully Gomes is okay and won’t have to miss any time. Just in case, though:

This is the right move. Miguel Amaya is already on the 40-man roster, so no moves would have to be made there, and he’d be serving mostly as a backup.

The Nats got on the board in the bottom of the second on a solo homer by Lane Thomas.

The Cubs got that back, and more, in the fifth. Nico Hoerner led off with a single and Swanson followed with his second homer of 2023 [VIDEO].

Here’s the data on Swanson’s blast [VIDEO].

Here’s more info, including how many parks that ball would have been out of:

Things continued with Smyly mowing down Nationals hitters. He threw just 84 pitches (56 strikes) and never was really in any trouble, apart from the solo homer allowed in the second. He probably could have at least started the eighth, but perhaps it was best to give him some rest. Mark Leiter Jr. struck out all three hitters he faced in the eighth, and Ian Happ concluded the scoring with his third homer of the year [VIDEO].

Here are the numbers on Happ’s homer [VIDEO].

And more:

Happ didn’t even start this game, but replaced Nelson Velázquez after the Nats lifted their starter, lefthander MacKenzie Gore. It’s not clear whether Velázquez might have suffered a minor injury, or whether David Ross was just swapping Nelson out for the switch-hitting Happ.

Brad Boxberger, who had been warming up for a possible save, got taken out of the save opp by Happ’s homer, but came in and retired the Nats 1-2-3 in the ninth. He had some defensive help on the first two outs from Bellinger and Hoerner [VIDEO].

This is where you can really see the value of good defense. Last year, those balls are probably hits against the Cubs defense. This year, they’re outs. Defense matters.

Here’s the final out of the game [VIDEO].

As was the case a couple of weeks ago in Oakland, the Cubs faced a not-very-good team and did what good teams are supposed to do in that situation — dispatched them without much difficulty. The complaint department is definitely closed and locked up tight after this win, which gave the Cubs a good start to the month of May. This month’s schedule appears noticeably tougher than April’s, so by the end of May we should have a good idea of how the rest of the 2023 season might play out.

Note: Former Cub Cory Abbott threw the last two innings of this game for Washington, allowing the homer to Happ. There had been some chatter about Abbott starting Wednesday for the Nats, obviously that’s not going to happen. Washington’s Wednesday starter (against Marcus Stroman) is still listed as “TBD.”

The Cubs will go for two in a row over the Nationals Tuesday evening at Nationals Park. Hayden Wesneski gets the start for the Cubs and another former Cub, Trevor Williams, starts for Washington. Game time is again 6:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.