Cubs

Stephen Strasburg set to 'put his balls on the line' and start Game 4 for Nationals

Stephen Strasburg set to 'put his balls on the line' and start Game 4 for Nationals

Well this keeps getting crazier.

The Washington Nationals are going to roll with Stephen Strasburg as their Game 4 starter.

Immediately after Tuesday's game was rained out, Nationals manager Dusty Baker announced his team would still start Illinois native Tanner Roark in Game 4 as planned, even though Strasburg would be on regular rest to go Wednesday.

However, Strasburg was feeling under the weather and the Nationals initially chose to roll with the guy who is 100 percent — Roark — instead of a sick Strasburg.

The Nationals co-ace has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since the All-Star Break and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Cubs in Game 1 before ultimately coming up short in a 3-0 Cubs win.

Now, with their backs against the wall and facing elimination, the Nationals are apparently turning back to Strasburg. 

Washington GM Mike Rizzo was on the Sports Junkies radio show earlier Wednesday morning and defended his player and team for the initial decision they made, also saying Strasburg was "attempting to put his balls on the line."

"Yeah, he wanted to pitch," Rizzo said. "What he told Mike Maddux was he'll give us everything he has. He's not sure how much that is and how long he can go."

The Cubs official Twitter account had a brilliant reaction to the Nationals' bait-and-switch:

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 5th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 5th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is starting to heat up, drilling a homer on back-to-back days in late April. His fifth blast came on April 24, a 430-foot solo shot off Dodgers starter Ismael Valdez during the first inning in Los Angeles.

Sosa wound up only playing six innings in that game, however, as he was eventually replaced as a part of a double switch while the Cubs got thumped by the Dodgers. Kerry Wood struggled to get 5 outs, allowing 7 earned runs as L.A. scored 9 in the second inning alone en route to a 12-4 win.

Mike Piazza homered off Wood in that second inning while former Cubs Todd Hollandsworth and Eric Young combined for 3 RBI in the Dodgers lineup.

Fun fact: Jose Hernandez entered the game in place of Sosa and went 2-for-2 with a double, homer and 3 RBI in his only two trips to the plate.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Willson Contreras throws shade at Yu Darvish

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Willson Contreras throws shade at Yu Darvish

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Rich Campbell (Chicago Tribune) and Jay Cohen (Associated Press) join Kap on the panel. Willson Contreras says Yu Darvish lets up with two outs. Was the young catcher right to criticize the veteran pitcher? And what’s your level of concern with the big free agent hurler?

Plus Matt Forte and Devin Hester retire as members of the Bears. Is Devin Hester’s next stop in Canton? And will the franchise’s career passing leader get a day like this?