But because the Nats' lineup has left-right balance, after Lind's single, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon had to choose what to do: bring in lefty Mike Montgomery to face Harper, knowing right-handed hitting Anthony Rendon - with a homer earlier in the night - waited behind him.
The Cubs already announced their pitching plans, saying Wednesday that their rotation would be Kyle Hendricks in Game 1, Jon Lester in Game 2, Jose Quintana in Game 3 and Jake Arrieta in Game 4, if there is one in the best-of-five series.
Rizzo's blast was unusual because he hit a Gonzalez curveball, a hard pitch to drive over a fence, and because he became only the second left-handed hitter this year - along with Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves - to hit a homer off Gonzalez.
Javier Báez reached on a rare error by Nats third baseman Anthony Rendón, then went to second on a Hendricks sacrifice. How, just when he was ready to return, he got sick, and how he had barely a week to try and get his timing back. In Game 2, Harper went down with a strikeout, then grounded out twice to the shortstop. "I didn't get it down where I wanted to". He needed just eight pitches to turn away the Cubs in the first.
"I love you, Pop", Harper told his dad as he gave him a giant bear hug.
When you hit a baseball to the moon and are one of the two of three best players on the planet, you get to flip your bat like that.
"Strasburg threw a great game".
Let's get this out of the way first - I'm a Cardinals fans and I wasn't rooting for the Cubs last year and I'm not rooting for them this year.
Maybe something changed, even something big, on Saturday night as the autumn moon rose over the right field stands to get a glimpse of what, far down on planet earth, was causing all that ruckus down at Nationals Park, a place that seldom raises it voice until the heavens take note. "He's a big part of the team". He struck out six, walked two, and threw 83 pitches before giving way to the bullpen.
He absolutely destroyed the pitch from Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. Ryan Madson gave up an RBI double in the eighth by Rizzo to make it 3-0 as he knocked in Jon Jay, who led off with a pinch-hit double. And it appeared that Strasburg, after his disappointing performance in his only other postseason start in 2014, did his best to be the hero. They lost to the Cardinals in 2012, the Giants in 2014 and the Dodgers past year. Offense was an issue for Chicago throughout the team's 2016 championship run-the team only really breaking out in Game 6 of the World Series-and could be a problem once again this postseason. Where Hendricks did it with infuriating accuracy and persistence, Strasburg's stuff was electric-his fastball in the early going was sitting 97-98 miles per hour, and his changeup was absolutely wiping out Cubs hitters.
"You are aware of (him)".
And with a first-pitch curveball in the dirt, it looked like the right move. "I don't want to say 'pressure, ' but, yeah, I mean, the tension builds a little bit, I'll be honest with you". They played a good game.