Ron Swanson couldn't follow in Bill Murray's footsteps.
Chicago native and noted Cubs fan Nick Offerman sang the Seventh Inning Stretch with actress Elisabeth Moss, but the "Parks and Rec" fan favorite didn't generate the same buzz with the Cubs' bats.
Stephen Strasburg was just too damn good Wednesday night as he and the Nationals got the last laugh on the whole "mold" joke, making the Cubs look more like the team that was feeling "under the weather" on the losing end of a 5-0 Game 4 affair.
However you want to slice it, the whole "mold" storyline was thrown out the window...oh, about the third inning or so.
Strasburg demanded the ball in Game 4 and went out and "put his balls on the line," throwing an absolute gem of a game. He struck out the side in both the third and fourth innings, tallying 12 Ks in 7 innings and generating a ton of swings and misses on his wicked changeup:
Stephen Strasburg, 87 mph Changeup. A Changeup clinic. pic.twitter.com/RLq7vRENfI— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 11, 2017
This was an opportunity for a statement game from Strasburg and he answered the call, silencing any Nationals fans who questioned his toughness.
His 12 strikeouts broke his own Nationals postseason record that he set in Game 1 when he struck out 10 Cubs hitters. So that makes 22 Ks for Strasburg — against only six hits — in 14 innings in the series. Talk about dominance.
Guess he truly was feeling better, so whatever antibiotics he was on certainly did the trick.
Who knows what would've happened in Tuesday's game had it not been rained out, but the only thing we can say for certain: Strasburg was not going to be the starting pitcher Tuesday under any circumstance.
Maybe Tanner Roark would've had just as neutralizing of an effect on Cubs' bats, but yeah, it doesn't seem too likely he would've been as dominant as Strasburg was Wednesday afternoon/evening.
And now the Cubs have to go back to D.C. without the benefit of a travel day or day off to rest and try to come out on the positive end of a winner-take-all Game 5 with a raucous Washington crowd.
Seems pretty clear the weather gave the Nats at least a partial advantage, though Cubs fans can't really complain about rain affecting the momentum of a contest after Game 7 last year, right? Right?
Don't forget about Trea
Trea Turner finally got on base and immediately made it hurt for the Cubs.
The young shortstop lined a one-out double to the left-field corner off Jake Arrieta in the third inning and later came around to score the only run Arrieta gave up in the game. Turner started the NLDS 0-for-13 before that double.
It's not like the Nationals lit the world on fire offensively (they finished with only four hits), but they took advantage of nine walks and had just one big swing of the bat.
Where is the defense?
The Cubs' defense once again failed the Cubs, as the only run of the game through seven innings was unearned by virtue of Addison Russell's bobble on Ryan Zimmerman's chopper. (Yes, Zimmerman once again took advantage of the Cubs' shoddy fielding at Wrigley.)
It's hard to blame Russell too much, given he was charging hard on a slick infield and it would've been a rather tough play either way.
But that makes five errors for the Cubs in the two games at Wrigley Field and once again called into question: Where is that elite defense the team rode to a championship in 2016?
All hands on deck
Arrieta was forced out of the game after only four innings and Joe Maddon's first choice out of the bullpen was...Jon Lester?
Yep, the veteran southpaw came on to throw 3.2 innings as Maddon went full Game 7 mode, bypassing the likes of Mike Montgomery, Brian Duensing and John Lackey for those middle innings.
Lester performed brilliantly (even picking a guy off first base!) before departing after a two-out single to Daniel Murphy, giving way to Carl Edwards Jr. The Cubs young setup man walked the first two batters he faced, loading the bases and forcing Maddon to bring in Wade Davis.
That's when disaster struck. Davis served up a backbreaking grand slam to Michael A. Taylor, who hit one into the teeth of 16 mph winds, dropping one into the right-field basket and ensuring there would be another day to this series. It was the first homer Davis has surrendered in 25 postseason outings spanning 29.1 innings.
Maddon clearly was going all-out to win Game 4, not wanting to go back to D.C. Thursday and face a combination of Gio Gonzalez, Max Scherzer and a rested Nats bullpen on their home turf in a winner-take-all game. The thinking here makes sense: win Game 4 and there is no Game 5.
The problem is, that's exactly what Maddon and Co. will have to do and now Lester probably won't be available out of the 'pen for a Game 5 after throwing 55 pitches Wednesday.