Elias Says: October 13, 2017

Russell’s bat leads Cubs past Nats

Addison Russell doubled twice and drove in four runs as the Cubs advanced to the National League Championship Series with a 9–8 win at Washington. Only one other player has ever driven in as many runs in a one-run, series-clinching win. Lance Berkman also had four RBIs (on an eighth-inning grand slam) in the Astros’ 7–6 18-inning Game 4 win over the Braves in the 2005 NLDS, a game that ended with a walkoff home run by Chris Burke.

Russell, who drove in six runs in Game 6 of last year’s World Series, is the first Cubs player to have more than one four-RBI game in the postseason. The only other shortstops to have multiple four-RBI postseason games are Jimmy Rollins (2, in 2007 and 2010) and Carlos Correa (2, in 2015 and 2017.)

Cubs win a close, high-scoring contest

Thursday’s Cubs win marked the 35th time that a winner-take-all postseason game was decided by one run, and, at 9–8, it was the highest-scoring of those 35 games to be won by the visiting team. In fact, only one other winner-take-all postseason game decided by a one-run margin saw more runs scored; that was Game 7 of the 1960 World Series in Pittsburgh, when the Pirates defeated the Yankees, 10–9, on Bill Mazeroski’s walkoff home run. There was also one other 9–8 final in a winner-take-all postseason game: the Royals defeated the visiting Athletics by that score in 12 innings in the 2014 American League Wild Card Game.

Wieters suffers through a tough inning

Matt Wieters would like to forget the pivotal top of the fifth inning, in which the Cubs scored four runs off Max Scherzer to take the lead for good. Wieters was charged with both a passed ball and a throwing error on a Javier Baez strikeout, and then was called for catcher’s interference on a play that allowed Tommy La Stella to reach first base. How far back do you need to go to find the last catcher to commit two errors and a passed ball in the same postseason inning? The answer is, literally, all the way back. In the top of the first inning of the very first World Series game, in 1903, Lou Criger of the Boston Americans was charged with two errors and a passed ball with Cy Young on the mound in the midst of a four-run inning by the Pirates. Pittsburgh won that game, but Boston went on to win the best-of-nine series, five games to three.

No major-leaguer had suffered through an inning like that during the regular season since the Padres’ Miguel Ojeda, against Montreal in 2003. No catcher in Expos/Nationals history had ever been charged with two errors and a passed ball in one regular-season frame.

Game 5 runs late

Thursday’s Game 5 took four hours, 37 minutes to play. It was the longest nine-inning game in postseason history, breaking the record of 4:32 set in Game 5 of last year’s NLDS, when the Dodgers eliminated the Nationals with Clayton Kershaw earning the save. Only two regular-season nine-inning games have ever lasted as long. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that both were between the Yankees and Red Sox, in 2006 (4:45) and 2007 (4:43.)

Another tough end to the Nationals’ season

For the second straight year, the Nationals were eliminated from the postseason in a winner-take-all game decided by one run. Last year, the Dodgers traveled to the nation’s capital and came away 4–3 winners in Game 5 of the Division Series. Only one other major-league team has lost a winner-take-all postseason game by the minimum margin in each of two consecutive years: The “Moneyball A’s” lost Game 5 of the Division Series at home in both 2002 (losing to the Twins, 5–4) and 2003 (losing to the Red Sox, 4-3).

Wentz continues hot passing for Eagles

Carson Wentz threw three touchdown passes without an interception in the Eagles’ 28–23 win at Carolina. Wentz has passed for more touchdowns than interceptions in each of his first six games in 2017. The only other Philadelphia player to start ever to start a season with a streak like that was Donovan McNabb in 2006.

Ertz catches two passes, for two TDs

Zach Ertz caught two passes, both touchdowns from Carson Wentz, in the Eagles’ win at Carolina Thursday night. Only one other Philadelphia player in the last 25 years has caught at least two passes in a game and scored touchdowns on all of them. That was Greg Lewis, who had two TD receptions in a 31–9 home win over the Packers in October 2006.

Stewart extends season-opening scoring streak

Chris Stewart has scored at least one goal in each of the Wild’s three games this season, including two in Minnesota’s 5–2 win over the Blackhawks in Chicago on Thursday. Stewart is the third player in Wild franchise history to score goals in each of the team’s first three games of a season, after Antti Miettinen (2008–09) and Zach Parise (2015–16), but he’s the first to do so with all of those games played on the road.

Glendenning’s late shortie gives Detroit a road win

Luke Glendenning’s shorthanded goal with 3:24 remaining in the third period broke a 2–2 tie and the Red Wings went on to defeat the Coyotes, 4–2. It was Detroit’s latest third-period game-winning shorthanded goal since Shawn Burr scored at 16:47 of the third period against Vancouver on March 15, 1994.

Koekkoek scores first two NHL goals

Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek scored the first two goals of his NHL career in Tampa Bay’s 5–4 win over the Penguins. Koekkoek entered play on Thursday with 42 regular-season games on his NHL resume. The only other active player who began his NHL career with a goalless streak of 40 games or longer and then scored his first two goals in the same game is defenseman Kris Russell, who was 0 for 45 in the NHL before scoring twice for the Blue Jackets at Dallas on Jan. 22, 2008. Koekkoek is the fourth player to score the first two goals of his NHL in the same game while playing for the Lightning. The others are Steven Stamkos, Mark Barberio and Cedric Paquette.

Teenager Girard scored twice for Nashville

Samuel Girard, in the second game of his NHL career, earned first-star honors by scoring one goal and assisting on another in the Predators’ 4–1 win against the Stars. The 19-year-old Girard is the fourth teenager in Predators history to score two points or more in one game, joining David Legwand (three times), Scott Hartnell (seven times) and defenseman Seth Jones (three times.)

A two-point game for Ekblad

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad notched his first two-point game this season by scoring one goal and assisting on another in Florida’s 5–2 win against the Blues. Ekblad produced four multiple-point games in each of his first two NHL seasons (2014–15 and 2015–16) but he had only one multi-point performance in the 68 games he played last season (Jan. 18 at Edmonton, two assists). Thursday’s game marked only the second time that Ekblad tallied a goal and an assist in the same game in his NHL career. He also did that against the Devils in New Jersey on Dec. 6, 2015.