Everything began unraveling when [Joe] Maddon pulled Lester with two outs in the eighth after Murphy singled on his 55th pitch instead of letting the lefty finish the inning. Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. proved ineffective again, wildly walking the bases loaded. Then Maddon’s decision to bring in closer Wade Davis with a 1-0 count backfired when Taylor became the unlikeliest of villains with a 393-foot home run into the right-field basket.
“That ball had to be absolutely crushed,” Maddon said.
Crushed also describes the way Cubs fans felt seeing the Nationals celebrate. Faith still exists in Game 5 starter Kyle Hendricks, who will oppose either Roark or Gio Gonzalez, but the specter of Max Scherzer also looms.
“We’ll be fine,” Maddon said, smiling.
How fitting that a Cubs season full of so many fits and starts, amid so much inconsistency, now comes down to an outcome impossible to predict.