As a literary device, fog represents confusion and obscurity. Those two words describe tonight’s game pretty well.
After Doug Fister put them in a hole, the Washington Nationals (41-37) came back to tie the game, but the Chicago Cubs (33-44) scored a pair off of Craig Stammen and held on to their lead to win, 5-3.
The heavy mist hanging over Wrigley Field all night fortunately only affected one play, a lost fly ball that became a triple, but added an air of surreality to the contest. Indeed, this game was a surreal one for the Nats.
The first moment of incredulity was the damage the anemic Cubs offense did to the usually steady Fister. He started off cruising, allowing just one hit over his first three innings. But the wheels came off in the fourth. He put on four of the first five men he faced, including a two-run single from Starlin Castro and another run-scoring hit from Welington Castillo. He was afflicted by a bit of bad luck, as sinkerballers are often susceptible to. Castillo’s single was a ground ball that just got by Ian Desmond, though Fister was also struggling with control.
Even after his almost-40 pitch disaster inning, Fister rebounded. He tossed a perfect fifth and maneuvered around two hits in the sixth, including a ball that Denard Span could not see through the fog and landed for a triple. His final line was solid, though certainly disappointing by his own standards: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.
The Nationals’ offense also inspired some incredulity, in that it inspired fans to ask how these things could be happening. It began in the second, when Bob Henley made a rare mistake in waving Ryan Zimmerman home when he would clearly be thrown out, squandering a good run-scoring chance. The only opportunity the Nats cashed in on cleanly was Anthony Rendon‘s RBI single after a Span double in the sixth, though Jayson Werth grounded into a double play later in the inning to prevent any more scoring.
After Span tied the game in the seventh with a two-run double, he was thrown out after taking a big turn around second. Of course, in another inexplicable moment, one of the runners Span scored was Danny Espinosa, who walked.
The Nats also grounded into three separate double plays, snuffing out multiple offensive chances.
After the Nats drew even in the top of the seventh, the Cubs came right back and managed to score two off of the usually reliable Stammen (L, 0-3). It was all she wrote from there, as the Cubs’ bullpen held the Nats down and kept the lead.
It was simply a strange game all around, with struggles from steady players and odd miscues to sabotage potential offensive momentum. Of course, the Nationals have no choice to look to tomorrow, when Tanner Roark starts the second game of a series the Nats should be able to capitalize on.