Barring a last-minute change Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli will start Game 7 tonight despite suffering what appeared to be pretty significant injuries last night.
Napoli rolled his ankle running the bases, but stayed in to catch the final eight innings and X-rays taken afterward were negative. Speed has never been part of Napoli’s game anyway, so handling the pain defensively figures to be the biggest issue for the series’ leading MVP candidate.
Cruz was double-switched out of last night’s game in the 11th inning after straining his groin, but he’ll join Napoli in trying to gut things out. He failed to make a play on a fly ball to right field that turned into David Freese’s game-tying, two-run triple in the ninth inning, so Cruz’s mobility in the outfield will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.
Toss in Josh Hamilton’s groin injury and Matt Harrison will want to do whatever he can to keep the ball on the ground all night.
The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.
Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.