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2019 World Series: Washington Nationals hold on for 5-4 win over Houston Astros in Game 1

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It was the Juan Soto show in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series, as the Nationals’ 20-year-old slugger led the way in a 5-4 win over the Astros...

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game One Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Juan Soto in the World Series? What did you think was going to happen? Soto homered to tie things up at 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning tonight in Game 1 of the World Series in Houston, TX’s Minute Maid Park, then he drove in two more runs with a double off Astros’ starter Gerrit Cole in the fifth, making it a 5-2 game after Adam Eaton put Washington up earlier in the inning. Soto finished the night 3 for 4 with a double, homer, run scored, and three RBIs in the Nationals’ 5-4 win.

Max Scherzer struggled early, but stuck around for five innings, throwing 112 pitches before he was done, and Gerrit Cole, who gave up one run in 22 23 IP as the Astros made their way through the ALDS and CS, gave up five runs in seven innings in the loss.

Scherzer vs the Astros: Max Scherzer took the mound tonight in Minute Main Park coming off back-to-back, seven-inning outings, in Game 4 of the NLDS and Game 2 of the NLCS, in which he gave up just one run total, on five hits, walking five and striking out 18 of the 51 batters he faced in wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals.

Tonight in Game 1 of the 115th Fall Classic, Scherzer, who was making the second World Series start of his career, fell behind early, with a leadoff walk to George Springer and a single by José Altuve setting the table for the Astros, who cashed in with a 2-out, 2-run double to left by Yuli Gurriel which gave the home team a 2-0 lead early in Minute Maid Park.

Scherzer threw 26 pitches in the first, and he was up to 48 after two, and 69 after three, but he took the mound in the fourth in a 2-2 game, after Juan Soto joined Ryan Zimmerman with home runs off Gerrit Cole to give the Nationals’ starter a clean slate, and worked around a single and a walk in a 27-pitch frame that left him at 96 total.

It was a 5-2 game in the Nationals’ favor when Scherzer came out for the bottom of the fifth, and retired the side in order in a 16-pitch frame that left him at 112 total.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 112 P, 65 S, 2/4 GO/FO.

Cole vs the Nationals: One of only two 20-game winners in the majors this season, along with rotation-mate Justin Verlander (who led the majors with 21) Gerrit Cole finished the 2019 season with a 2.50 ERA (3rd-lowest amongst qualified starters in the majors), the fourth-most IP (with 212 13 over 33 starts), an MLB-leading 326 Ks, the second-lowest batting average against (.186 AVG), behind only Verlander again (.172), and the second-lowest WHIP (0.89).

Going into Game 1 of the World Series, the Nationals knew what they were getting into with Cole on the mound for the Astros.

“What I’ve seen of him, he’s really good,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said.

“But we’ve known that, even in his Pittsburgh days, faced him a lot. He’s really good. If you look at this whole series, both sides got unbelievable starting pitching.

“So it’s going it to be -- like I said, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I just want our club to go out there and have fun and play the game like we’re capable of playing, and kind of focus on the little things.”

Cole worked around a leadoff single in a scoreless, 10-pitch first, but Ryan Zimmerman got all of a 96 MPH 1-0 fastball in the top of the second, hitting a solo shot to center that cut an early lead in half, 2-1 Astros.

Juan Soto got Cole in the top of the fourth, hitting a 96 MPH 1-0 fastball out to left-center for a game-tying solo shot that landed on the train tracks above the high outfield wall in Minute Maid Park, 2-2.

Adam Eaton stepped in with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth, after a walk by Kurt Suzuki and a single by Victor Robles, and lined an 0-1 slider to right to bring Suzuki in and make it a 3-2 game in the Nationals’ favor, and Juan Soto went the other way with a 3-2 slider with two out, driving in two more runs to make it 5-2 after four and a half.

Cole kept it there through seven, and was up to 104 pitches after a nine-pitch sixth, and 14-pitch seventh, but the Nationals still led by three...

Gerrit Cole’s Line: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HRs, 104 P, 70 S, 5/3 GO/FO.

Turn-on & Rend-on: Trea Turner started the World Series with a 22-game on-base streak that went back to September 17th, over which he had a .323 AVG with nine doubles, six home runs, 13 RBIs, five walks, three steals, and 18 runs scored.

He extended that streak with a leadoff single on a one-hopper to short that Carlos Correa couldn’t handle in his first at bat.

Anthony Rendon came into the Fall Classic with an eight-game hit streak going, which went back to Game 2 of the NLDS. Rendon was 12 for 26 in that stretch (.462/.514/.731) with four doubles, a home run, and six walks (vs 4 Ks).

Rendon went hitless 0 for 4, though he did score a run after reaching on a force at second in the fifth.

#TKCHZ and Soto: Ryan Zimmerman hit his first World Series home run in his first World Series game, after waiting 15 years to get here. Juan Soto, in his second major league run, hit his first home run in the Fall Classic two innings later, tying things up and becoming the second-youngest player to homer in a World Series game, behind only Andruw Jones.

BULLPEN ACTION: Patrick Corbin came out of the bullpen with a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth, and worked around a single in a 21-pitch frame.

Tanner Rainey took over in the seventh and gave up a solo homer to left-center by George Springer in the first at bat, on a 99 MPH 2-1 fastball, 5-3.

A one-out walk brought the tying run to the plate, in the form of Alex Bregman, who got up 3-0, but went to a full count and walked.

Daniel Hudson got out No. 2 of the Astros’ 7th after taking over and popping up Yuli Gurriel, but Carlos Correa reached on an infield single, loading the bases in front of Yordan Alvarez, who went down swinging at a 96 MPH 0-2 fastball up high for out No. 3.

Will Harris worked around a one-out single by Juan Soto for a scoreless top of the eighth.

Hudson came back out and gave up a leadoff single by pinch hitter Kyle Tucker in the first at bat of the bottom of the eighth inning, and he tagged up on a fly to center, and scored from second on a double to right-center by George Springer, 5-4. José Altuve sent a fly to right for out No. 2, and the Nationals went to the pen again for Sean Doolittle.

Doolittle took the mound with a runner on second and Michael Brantley at the plate, and got a line drive to left for out No. 3. Still 5-4 Nationals.

Joe Smith tossed a quick, 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

Doolittle returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth and struck out Alex Bregman, ONE!! Yuli Gurriel? Fly to center. TWO!!! Carlos Correa? Fly to center. THREE!!!!!

Ballgame.

Final Score: 5-4 Nationals

Nationals lead 1-0 in the World Series