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Game 3 for Cubs and Nationals today at Wrigley Field

During the Washington Nationals' first two postseason
games against the Chicago Cubs, star pitcher Max Scherzer has been
relegated to the role of observer, unable to take an active role.
But after two days of "champing at the bit" to take the mound
today as the deadlocked best-of-five National League Division
series shifts to Wrigley Field, Scherzer is confident he can give
the Nationals everything they've come to expect from their ace.
Scherzer hasn't pitched since Sept. 30 when he left his final
regular-season start with what he referred to at the time as a
"small tweak" in his right hamstring. The reigning National League
Cy Young winner was scheduled to pitch Game 1 against the Cubs, but
was pushed back to Game 3 to provide him extra time to build more
strength and endurance in his hamstring.
In recent days, Scherzer has worked with team trainers to get his
hamstring as close to 100 percent in order to give him every chance
to work as long as Washington needs in Monday's pivotal Game 3.
"I'm very confident as soon as I toe the rubber, I'm going to be
good on pitch one," Scherzer said Sunday. "It's (about) how long
can I go without re-injuring this and that's where we've done
everything we can to make sure I can throw 100 pitches and not have
this happen.
"When I'm on the mound (Monday), I'm fully anticipating being able
to throw 100 pitches."
Scherzer won his only start against the Cubs this season and is 3-1
in six career starts against Chicago.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said he's not concerned about
Scherzer, but said he will keep a keen eye on any signals that
might be telling in how the right-hander is feeling.
Meanwhile, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he will likely add another
left-handed bat to his lineup against Scherzer. Maddon referred to
Scherzer as "oppressively difficult" against right-handed hitters.
The Cubs overcame being no-hit for 5 2/3 innings in Game 1 against
Stephen Strasburg to pull out a 3-0 victory to take an early series
lead. But after the Nationals scored five times in the eighth
inning in Saturday's 6-3 victory to even the series, Cubs left
fielder Kyle Schwarber said it's just a matter of keeping the right
approach against Scherzer.
"It's Scherzer -- we all know he's got good stuff," Schwarber said.
"But we're not afraid of the name on the back (of the jersey).
We're going to go out and execute what we want at the plate."
While the Cubs prepare to face Washington's ace, Chicago will
counter with Jose Quintana, who will make his postseason debut.
Quintana, who was acquired from the crosstown White Sox in a
midseason trade, will face the Nationals for the first time in his
Despite Quintana's lack of playoff experience, Maddon points to
performances Quintana made late in the regular season when the Cubs
were still in a fight for a Central Division title. Like Scherzer,
Quintana will take the mound looking to give his team an edge in
the series.
Quintana said he feels no pressure.
"I (will) just go try and get focused, pitch by pitch (and) control
my emotions every time," Quintana said. "I think that's the huge
part for me -- especially when it's my first time here."


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