A Predictably Ugly Shutout – Nationals 13, Cubs 0

Game Eighty-Five: Cubs 0, Nationals 13

WP – Gio Gonzalez (6-4) LP – Carlos Villanueva (4-6) Save – None

The Cubs had a bad afternoon Saturday at Nationals Park and saw their four-game winning streak come to an end. The Cubs lost the second game of the series to the Nationals as the team was shutout for the 11th time this season.

The Cubs offense could not figure out Gio Gonzalez for the second time in a week. Seven days after shutting out the Cubs for seven innings at Wrigley Field, Gonzalez limited the Cubs to four hits in eight innings. Fifteen innings of shutout ball for Gonzalez in two starts against the Cubs. The Cubs had only one scoring chance against Gonzalez, and that was in the second inning.

The Cubs managed five hits Saturday and one walk. Justin Ruggiano (2-for-4), Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a walk), Welington Castillo (1-for-3) and Chris Coghlan (1-for-3) collected the five singles.

PrintCarlos Villanueva was serviceable in the first two innings and gave up only one run. But Villanueva could not record an out in the third as the game quickly got away from the Cubs. Villanueva faced three batters in the third, all three reached and once Villanueva hit his pitch count limit, Rick Renteria went to his pen for Chris Rusin. Villanueva was charged with four runs on five hits with one walk, a wild pitch and two strikeouts. Villanueva threw 58 pitches, 35 for strikes, in two-plus innings.

Chris Rusin replaced Villanueva in the third, as planned, and was hit rather hard in the third inning before putting zeroes on the board in the fourth and fifth innings. Rusin could not record the last out in the sixth as he appeared to run out of gas. Rusin was charged with five runs on nine hits with a walk, a wild pitch and four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Rusin threw 73 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Justin Grimm recorded the last out in the sixth, but he struggled in the seventh as the game went from really, really bad to worse. Grimm was touched up for four runs on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts in one inning. Grimm threw 43 pitches, 27 for strikes. Wesley Wright recorded the last four outs for the Cubs.

The Nationals scored 13 runs on 19 hits and three walks … and eight of the 19 hits went for two bases.

With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 38-47 on the season.

The Cubs went down in order to start the game on 13 pitches, nine for strikes, and Carlos Villanueva kept the Nationals off the board in the first inning. Villanueva used nearly half of his pitches in the first inning (22 pitches, 12 strikes) and the game went to the second with no score.

The Cubs wasted an opportunity to put runs on the board in the second. Starlin Castro led off with a single to right but was caught stealing second. Welington Castillo followed with a single and Chris Coghlan singled with two outs after Mike Olt struck out. Darwin Barney flied out to Bryce Harper near the left field wall to end the inning. Gonzalez threw 39 pitches, 24 for strikes, in two innings.

The Nationals put a run on the board in the second after Ryan Zimmerman led off the inning with a single to left. Bryce Harper bunted Zimmerman to second and Ian Desmond singled to left. Zimmerman scored, 1-0 Nationals. Villanueva struck out Wilson Ramos and Gio Gonzalez grounded out to third to end the inning. Villanueva threw 38 pitches, 23 for strikes, in two innings. And after two, the Nationals had a 1-0 lead.

The Cubs went down in order in the third and the Nationals removed any doubt they would beat the Cubs Saturday in the third inning. Carlos Villanueva started the inning and gave up a leadoff single to Denard Span. Anthony Rendon worked a full count. Span took off with Villanueva’s pitch and scored easily on Rendon’s double to left. The ball sailed over Coghlan’s head and one-hopped the wall. Jayson Werth worked a full count before he doubled to right center. Rendon scored and the Nationals took a 3-0 lead. Rick Renteria decided that was enough for Villanueva and went to his pen for Chris Rusin.

Adam LaRoche hit a tapper in front of the plate. Welington Castillo picked up the ball and made a bad decision. Castillo threw to third to try to get Werth. The throw was very late and the Nationals had runners on the corners with no outs. Ryan Zimmerman doubled to right. Werth scored, 4-0 Nationals. A wild pitch with Harper at the plate allowed LaRoche to score, 5-0 Nationals. With Zimmerman at third, Harper struck out swinging for the first out. Ian Desmond blooped a single tin right. Zimmerman scored, 6-0 Nationals. Wilson Ramos drove a 1-0 pitch off the wall in right center. Desmond scored easily on what turned out to be a long single, 7-0 Nationals. Gio Gonzalez bunted Ramos to second. Span, the 10th  man to bat in the inning, tapped back to Rusin to end the inning.

After an extremely ugly third inning, the Cubs trailed 7-0.

The game remained 7-0 Nationals until the sixth inning. Chris Rusin kept the Nationals off the board in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Nationals added to their stats in the sixth.

Chris Rusin started the sixth and retired Gonzalez (grounder to short) and Denard Span (strikeout looking) for the first two outs. Anthony Rendon doubled off the left field wall and scored on a Jayson Werth double to left … 8-0 Nationals. Adam LaRoche followed with a single to right. Werth scored, 9-0 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman singled to center and put runners on first and second for Bryce Harper. Harper singled to left. LaRoche was held at third and with the bases loaded and still two outs, Renteria finally went and got Rusin. Justin Grimm replaced Rusin and Grimm caught Ian Desmond looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs went down in order quickly in the seventh and the Nationals added insult to a bad ballgame in the bottom of the inning.

Justin Grimm stayed in for the seventh and Wilson Ramos led off with a double to right center. Gio Gonzalez followed with a single to left and the Nationals had runners on corners with no outs. Grimm struck out Scott Hairston swinging for the first out. Anthony Rendon doubled to right. Ramos scored, 10-0 Nationals. Nate McLouth hit for Werth with runners on second and third with one out and Grimm struck him out looking. Kevin Frandsen singled to right. Gonzalez scored, 11-0 Nationals. Rendon held at third with two down. Ryan Zimmerman doubled in Rendon and Frandsen, 13-0 Nationals. Grimm walked Bryce Harper and Rick Renteria finally went and got him. Wesley Wright replaced Grimm with runners on first and second with two down. Wright caught Desmond looking to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the eighth and Wesley Wright kept the Nationals off the board in the eighth. Justin Ruggiano collected the Cubs fifth hit, but was erased on a double play and Castro flied out to center to end the game.

Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face Jordan Zimmermann in the series and season finale with the Nationals on Sunday afternoon (12:35pm CDT).

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  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Grimm has become the weakest link in the Bullpen. I think Blake Parker is a better option. I know he’s 29 years old but he throws strikes. Parker has a 3.44 Era in parts of 3 seasons at the MLB level.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    By September depending on trades and such the starting lineup could look like this with current players on the 40 man roster.
    Alcantara CF
    Watkins 2b
    Rizzo 1b
    Castro SS
    Castillo C
    Vitters LF
    Olt 3b
    Lake RF
    Beeler P

  • Tom U

    An update from and earlier article:

    Jacob Hannemann of the Kane County Cougars is currently serving a suspension. Hannemann had an incident a few weeks ago in which he pushed an umpire.

  • paulcatanese

    Am watching the A’s pregame show, and whatever Cub fans thought about the Shark and Hammel seems to be a moot point. Oakland is simply overwhelmed getting the both of them. From the player interviews to the announcers they think its a great deal.
    Although they indicated what they gave up is a lot, this year, now is the most important. Shark to start tomorrow for the A’s.

    • John_CC

      They should be happy. Billy Beane is one of the most creative minds in baseball and this trade is bold and risky, he put all his chips in and called every team in the AL.

      Ive linked Peter Gammons’ blog a few time and I’ll do it again, hes just one of the great baseball writers.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Did the Cubs lose this trade, in your opinion?

        • John_CC

          Haha! No man, I love this trade for everyone. I love this deal because it has such high risk reward for both teams. I love it because Epstien and Beane are both creative, willing to listen and work for the best deal possible. I love it because it cannot be scored a “win” or “loss” because both teams moved thier teams forward toward their goals by big leaps. Can you tell I really enjoy this trade?

          Did the Cubs lose? What are you talking about?

        • GaryLeeT

          How do you lose a trade, when a team is not trying to win anything right now? Only the As can lose.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            We could too if Russell flames out. Were trying to win next year and beyond when it’s realistic.

          • RynoTiger

            ORRRRRR…wait..wait for it…how do you lose a trade when the players haven’t had a chance to even play yet??????!!!!!!!! AAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

      • Ripsnorter1

        Beane says the Cubs got Barry Larkin in this trade. If so, the Cubs robbed the A’s.

        • Tom U

          Never a Reds fan but had great respect for Barry Larkin. A very under-rated performer.

          • Ripsnorter1

            You are so right. His OPS each year was fantastic. At age 40 it was .771. 10 years OPS was .800+. 3 years it was .900+.

            Uh, yeah, we’ll take that. No problem.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I heard Barry Larkin with more power. But that was said by an unnamed GM, not Beane.

      • paulcatanese

        Good article thanks.

        • John_CC

          You are welcome Paul. I’m happy you like it and that we can agree on something. Gammons is so refreshing to me in the cluttered world of sports writers, radio talking heads, and supossed journalists.

      • DWalker

        All comes down to A’s need to win now and are in a position to win, but needed starting pitching. Cubs had pitchers they had to trade. Shark wasn’t going to stay and Hammel was buy low sell high. Really, when you think about what the cubs have done lately with no offense, no ace and almost no wins from the two pitchers they just traded, it makes you wonder. Theo said, and so far the beat writers indicate its probably true, of the pitchers ranked in the top 20 without injury red flags, none were available, even if they were, Theo is stock piling hard hitting high level defensive players, i bet as soon as russel was on the table, theo had no worry about pitching. This was a good trade for both sides. You don’t get players like Russel in trades. Straily may be another Arieta, his velocity is down I hear so, he is probably the high risk one of the bunch, but cubs pitching coaches seem to be miracle workers. What is the record for turnover of a starting line up in one year from a farm system? I could see an almost total makeover over the course of next year.

        • John_CC

          Agreed. And I don’t doubt for a second the Theo has always been looking for the top prospects in return, not simply pitchers just because that is what all the writers have been spouting about. It seems really evident that Epstien’s master plan is coming together quickly now.

          And on the flip side, when the Cubs are in the opposite position, loaded with hitters and fielders and prospects but short on ML pitching, we get a little idea of what a couple prospects will do for us.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I love th strategy of taking the best possible player despite position. That way you end up with a future starter but also assets. Instead of forcing a pick or trade that is riskier. Look for this strategy to become en vogue around the league in comin years. As in the past Theo’s strategies have been adopted an copied by the rest of the league.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Within a few years we could easily hae all stars all over the diamond. One of the better lineups really ever. And all young and locked up. Pitching will come eventually and we do have some good ones in lower levels.

      • AaronOR

        Haha sorry, I just posted the same article, great read.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Did anyone cry that Darwin Barney was not thrown into the deal?
      Inquiring minds want to know. They need a 2B.

      • paulcatanese

        No, in fact the announcers indicated they don’t care who plays SS next year, this is the year that counts. No one else was mentioned besides the two.

        • DWalker

          They are in win now mode. they still have a window in 2015, but after that it all starts to fall apart.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      It’s the best kind of trade. One both teams should benefit from. In a few years when Addison Russell is an all-star they will miss him. But I hope they either sign Shark long term or flip him. I like the way Beane does things an his willingness to be aggressive. He and Epstein are cut from the same cloth. Both should be rewarded for the savvy way they each run their teams.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    One thing I do like about the way Theo handles trades. He’s straight up and tells guys to make their best offer. As soon as he gets one he likes he takes it. He doesn’t run back and forth playing teams against one another. Opposing GM’s will appreciate that and in the future they’ll know they need to bring their A game and not waffle around. I read where Brian Cashman was trying to put together a package and Epstein told him what it would take and Cashman said no but for Epstein to get back to him. Well Brian, if you wanted the pitcher you should have upped the ante. One thing Theo has shown for over a decade is that he doesn’t play games and if you want to deal with him you better be ready to open up your books. If you don’t and you lose out, don’t cry about how you never got a chance to up your offer. You should have brought that offer up front. This way of doing things will help our FO in all trade talks over the upcoming years.

  • DWalker

    nice to see almora back on track these days.

  • AaronOR
  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Just trying to put a potential future lineup on paper so I can look at it.

    Alcantra CF
    Russell SS
    Rizzo 1B
    Bryant 3B
    Castro 2B
    Alcantra RF
    Castro LF
    Castillo C

    Man that’s deep. But also have Schwarber, Almora, McKinney, Soler, Vogelbach, Olt, Hanneman and others that could be in the lineup. I was mostly trying to envision a realistic starting 8 that could be in place in 2016. But shoot, it’s hard to imagine Schwarber at least won’t be available by then and I imagine his bat will force him into the lineup. So maybe throw him in place of Baez or Castro as I see them as most likely to get traded.

    Good problems to have. And when you look at the names that didn’t even make it into the lineup you appreciate the position we’ve built with the depth. When people want to say they all won’t make it, I’m sure they certainly won’t. But we need

    • triple

      Alcantara is good, but he’s gonna play 2 positions at the same time?!?! 😉

      I’m pretty sure you just found some space for Schwarber.

      • DWalker

        castro is in there twice as well, and baez is not listed at all. Were all of them to make it, Alcantara may end up as a super sub moving around to give everyone a day off, which was a scenario talked about before. that could open a spot for almora or soler if/when they make it. I don’t see the FO trading of the big 6 or 7 or whatever we are up to, but going forward theres a lot of interesting second tier guys like vogalbach, mckinney, hannerman etc that would be good candidates if they progress and were none of the top prospects fail. Going to be interesting this next year.

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