Cubs continue marathon stretch with makeup vs. Nats
The Chicago Cubs find themselves in the midst of a stretch in which getting a chance to catch their breath hasn’t been easy.
And while Hurricane Florence and accompanying storms threatened to prevent the Cubs and Washington Nationals from playing a makeup game Thursday at Nationals Park, it now appears everything is a go.
Rain that hovered over Washington, D.C. last weekend forced the Cubs to make a quick trip east that is being sandwiched between Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and the start of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds that starts Friday at Wrigley Field.
Already in a hectic stretch, Thursday’s game will make the 30th straight day the Cubs have played while they have seen their lead over the Brewers in the National League Central dwindle to one game.
“I love my teammates but seeing them 30 days in a row is not what I intend to do on a daily basis,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The one day away from them goes for two weeks seeing them.”
The threat of hurricane-like weather along the East Coast kept Thursday’s game in question before it was determined that the most serious conditions will steer clear of Washington. Earlier this week, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein asked for a common-sense solution and argued that forcing the Cubs to play the makeup game Thursday seemed unreasonable.
“I know (MLB) would not send us into a situation with any danger or risk,” Epstein said in a radio interview on Chicago’s 670 The Score on Wednesday. “And then I cannot imagine that they would send us into a situation where there’s a chance of rain given what we experienced in Washington last weekend and given the situation that would create 30 straight days with a game scheduled in the middle of a pennant race, which is just about unprecedented.”
Mike Montgomery (4-5, 3.85 ERA) will start for the Cubs on Thursday, making only his third start since Aug. 7. Montgomery surrendered a pair of earned runs over four innings in his last start and will face Washington for the first time as a starter in his career.
The Nationals, who took two of three games in last weekend’s rain-shortened series, have won five straight games after sweeping a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Stephen Strasburg finished off the sweep Wednesday with a seven-inning masterpiece in Washington’s 5-1 victory.
Before Wednesday’s game, the Nationals activated right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the disabled list after he had been sidelined with a right wrist injury. Hellickson, who had been part of the starting rotation, will return in a role that manager Dave Martinez told reporters Wednesday remains “up in the air.”
“At the moment right now, we’re taking it one day at a time,” Martinez said, according to the team’s official website.
Hellickson said he prefers to return to his previous role.
“I’m a starter — never came out of the bullpen,” Hellickson told reporters, according to MLB.com. “I’m a starter so I don’t think (heading to the bullpen) is something I really want to do.”
Joe Ross (0-0), who is coming off Tommy John surgery last year, will start Thursday. Ross faced the Cubs last week but had his outing wiped out after 1 2/3 ininings when rain forced the game to be postponed. Ross is 0-2 with a 3.44 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs.