In a postseason that’s been woefully short on strong starts and stellar pitching, Kyle Hendricks delivered one of his best starts of the year. The Cubs’ right-hander went seven solid innings in Friday’s 3-0 win over the Nationals, securing a 1-0 advantage in the NLDS with seven innings of two-hit, six-strikeout ball.
Despite working into a couple jams in the first two innings, Hendricks recovered with a pair of inning-ending outs and kept the Nationals’ baserunners from advancing past second base. Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the Nats’ Stephen Strasburg, who allowed two runs — both RBI singles from Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo — after hurling 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball to start the game.
Following Rizzo’s RBI hit in the sixth, Strasburg handed the ball to Ryan Madson, who allowed the Cubs to tack on an extra insurance run with Rizzo’s RBI double in the eighth. The Nationals, meanwhile, couldn’t get a break at the plate. Far from the 4.83 run support average they used to back Strasburg with in the regular season, they failed to reach base even once against the Cubs’ bullpen.
Carl Edwards Jr. needed just 11 pitches to cruise through a scoreless eighth, retiring Trea Turner on a four-pitch strikeout, inducing a first-pitch pop-out from Bryce Harper and flummoxing Anthony Rendon with six straight fastballs for an inning-ending strikeout. Wade Davis was just as efficient in the ninth, utilizing another 11 pitches to retire Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth and seal the Cubs’ shutout.
The Cubs will head off Game 2 of the series on Saturday at 5:30 PM ET. Lefties Jon Lester (13-8, 4.33 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96 ERA) will square off for another contest at Nationals Park before the series moves to Wrigley Field on Monday.