WASHINGTON -- Entering Thursday night's fifth and decisive game of the National League division series, Chicago Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. had appeared in each of the previous four.
He alternated between a good outing followed by a bad outing.
Edwards stood and took all questions from the media after the bad games. He walked the only two batters he faced in Game 4 at Wrigley Field but talked afterward of going to Los Angeles to start the championship series.
"Why wouldn't CJ say, 'Meet you in L.A.?' " asked manager Joe Maddon. "He's into initials."
"I've told him before this, 'If you want to be a relief pitcher, a quality relief pitcher in the big leagues, you have to have a short memory, have a real short memory to be really good at that particular job," Maddon said. "He's been good. I thought even after the home run (to Bryce Harper in Game 2), he came back and had a really good outing right after that. (Wednesday) he was well rested. Everything was right. It just didn't play out.
"This kid is going to be so good over the next several years. You have to help guide him through it at this moment. I love the fact that he does eject negativity rather quickly. I'm seeing that with him."
Good pitching wins out:
Joe Maddon was more into giving credit to the Nationals' pitchers than blaming his own hitters for a lack of runs.
In fact, neither side entered Thursday hitting well overall.
In particular, Maddon praised Nats pitchers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
"All this stuff is typical higher-mound baseball -- Gibson, Koufax-kind of stuff. Bob Veale. Jim Maloney. Don Drysdale," Maddon said. "Just when you think about the pitching and the '60s, a lot of National League dudes really pop.
"They (Nats pitchers) are really imposing, and they've got great stuff, every one of them. And also command. That's been the big thing. The command has been so good.
"Strasburg two games. That guy threw a strike whenever he wanted to. Scherzer's command, in spite of injury, was impressive, and Gio (Gonzalez) also. It's just been one of those four-game events. Just keep pushing."
Thursday night's Game 5 of the NLDS was the seventh "winner-take-all" postseason game for the Cubs. Last year they went to Game 7 of the World Series, winning in 10 innings at Cleveland.
Before that, the Cubs' other decisive games in the postseason were Game 7 of the 1945 World Series against Detroit, Game 5 of the 1984 NLCS against San Diego, Game 5 of the 2003 NLDS against Atlanta, Game 7 of the '03 NLCS against Florida and the 2015 wild-card game at Pittsburgh.
The Cubs entered Thursday 14-22 in games in which they or their opponent could be eliminated.