Baker, Na­tion­als stick with Roark on mound

Starkville Daily News - - MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL - By JAY CO­HEN As­so­ci­ated Press

CHICAGO — The show­ers came a lit­tle late, but the rain that soaked Wrigley Field and washed out Game 4 of the NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries fol­lowed Tues­day's fore­cast pretty closely.

In­stead, Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker de­liv­ered the big­gest sur­prise of the day.

Baker an­nounced after the rain­out that he will stay with Tan­ner Roark for to­day's must­win game against the Chicago Cubs in­stead of giv­ing the ball to ace Stephen Stras­burg on reg­u­lar rest. Jake Ar­ri­eta pitches for the Cubs in his re­turn from a right ham­string in­jury.

Stras­burg threw a bullpen ses­sion ear­lier in the day, ac­cord­ing to Baker, and the man­ager also said there is an ill­ness go­ing around the team, which he at­trib­uted to the weather, air con­di­tion­ing at their ho­tel and Wrigley, and the "time of the year for mold around Chicago."

"We de­cided to stay with Tan­ner be­cause, No. 1, you know, he was slated," Baker said. "Didn't work out for Stras for his bullpen day, and we're all crea­tures of habit, and plus, we've got full con­fi­dence in Tan­ner. And Stras, it would have been bet­ter, be­cause he's feel­ing un­der the weather, like a lot of my team is."

The Cubs and Na­tion­als took bat­ting prac­tice and the grounds crew got the field ready be­fore bring­ing out the tarp. The rain started to fall about a half-hour after the game was sup­posed to start. With more show­ers in the fore­cast, Ma­jor League Base­ball then called it off.

Chicago leads 2-1 in the best-of-five se­ries go­ing into Game 4, now sched­uled for to­day at 4:08 p.m. EDT. There is rain in the fore­cast for early in the day.

"Ev­ery­body was pretty much on the same page on this one," MLB ex­ec­u­tive Joe Torre said. "You know, we all felt it wasn't go­ing to be enough play­ing time with­out rain."

If the Na­tion­als win to­day, Game 5 would be Thurs­day night in Wash­ing­ton. The win­ner of the NLDS takes on the Dodgers in the next round, sched­uled to be­gin Satur­day in Los Angeles. Chicago won 2-1 at home Monday. Ar­ri­eta has pitched just 10 1/3 in­nings since Aug. 30. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award win­ner got hurt dur­ing a loss at Pitts­burgh on Sept. 4. He re­turned late last month and made a cou­ple starts down the stretch, but lasted just three in­nings in a loss at St. Louis on Sept. 26.

The Cubs skipped Ar­ri­eta's last turn in the ro­ta­tion in the reg­u­lar sea­son and then pushed him back to Game 4 for the play­offs, giv­ing the right-han­der am­ple time to rest.

"Jake's re­ally primed for this op­por­tu­nity," Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don said. "He's done a great job of re­hab­bing his leg. He feels very good arm- and leg-wise right now."

The 31-year-old Ar­ri­eta was a key fac­tor in Chicago's turn­around in the last part of the sea­son, go­ing 6-3 with a 2.28 ERA in his fi­nal 12 out­ings. Ar­ri­eta, who is eli­gi­ble for free agency after the sea­son, could be mak­ing his last start in a Cubs uni­form.

"These next few days are go­ing to be ex­tremely spe­cial, and if we're for­tu­nate enough to get past these guys, like I feel we are, I'm go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can to en­joy the last few weeks," Ar­ri­eta said Monday.

Roark is from Wilm­ing­ton, Illi­nois, about 60 miles south of Chicago, and grew up root­ing for the Cubs. Baker praised Roark's "war­rior men­tal­ity" on Monday, but the de­ci­sion to go with the righty over Stras­burg and the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the move likely will be hotly de­bated ahead of Game 4.

With Max Scherzer nurs­ing his own right ham­string in­jury, Stras­burg started the se­ries opener on Friday and turned in a dom­i­nant per­for­mance. The right-han­der was work­ing on a no-hit­ter be­fore Kris Bryant and An­thony Rizzo hit con­sec­u­tive RBI sin­gles with two outs in the sixth in­ning.

(Photo by Nam Y. Huh, AP)

Fans leave Wrigley Field Tues­day after Game 4 of the Na­tional League Di­vi­sion Se­ries be­tween the Chicago Cubs and the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als was post­poned un­til to­day due to rain.

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