Enhanced Box Score: Cubs 7, Nationals 5

It took 11 innings, but the Nationals eventually gave it up and the Cubs managed to win this one, with Patrick Wisdom and Seiya Suzuki playing hero. Heck, Suzuki had come within an eyelash of ending the game the inning before with a rocket throw to home plate. All’s well that ends well.

It’s hard to say enough good things about Justin Steele, who was once again highly-effective tonight. He got strikeouts when he needed them, and he stayed off the barrel all night. Even as the pitch count approached 100 and he was grinding, he had enough to get through it. What a revelation he’s been this season.

Stray note: Steele came up in 2021, first getting exposure out of the bullpen. An introduction to facing big league hitters, and succeeding against them. He also was up and down a little bit last year, and got some starts late in the year to get a taste of that, too. It was all development, and we’re seeing so much of the fruit this year. I just love that kind of process, and it’s something the Cubs have not successfully done/had the players to do it in such a long time.

The Cubs got into a spot of trouble in the 7th when Rowan Wick, in relief of a struggling Erich Uelmen, had a bouncer go off of his glove to load the bases. If he hadn’t touched it at all, it probably would’ve been an inning-ending double-play. As it was, the tying run was then on second base with just one out. THE VERY NEXT PITCH: inning-ending double-play. That was wild. But then Wick came back out for the next inning, something I feel like he often struggles with, and gave up two solo homers to allow the Nationals to tie it up.

The game thereafter went into extras, where the Cubs ran into some bad luck in the 10th – literally. A Rafael Ortega bouncer took the second baseman right into Zach McKinstry as he was running to second. The ensuing collision, which McKinstry could not avoid, meant that he was out, and Ian Happ, who was on third, was not permitted to score (as he EASILY would have on the play). A couple batters later, Willson Contreras scored Happ on a sac fly, so maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, but you never know – maybe Cubs would’ve won it an inning earlier. (Rafael Ortega ran himself into the final out of the inning on the play for some reason, and that, too, could’ve led to an earlier win.)

The Nationals tied it up on a seeing-eye single with two outs in the 10th – that’s the one where Suzuki’s throw to the plate was sooooo close to ending it – but the Cubs won it in the 11th. Mark Leiter Jr. looked really nasty to close it out.

Full box score.

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