It was 2-2 after one tonight in Game 2 of the World Series, and the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros were still tied at 2-2 after six, before Kurt Suzuki broke it up with one swing on a solo homer to left off Justin Verlander.
Suzuki took a 1-0 fastball up in the zone out to left field in Minute Maid Park to make it 3-2, before the Nats added five more runs in the inning to go up 8-2 in what ended up being a 12-3 win.
Stephen Strasburg gave up two runs early, then held the Astros off the board through the sixth before the Nationals rallied to take the lead and went on to win, giving themselves a big 2-0 advantage as the series shifts back to the nation’s capital.
Strasburg vs the Astros: In four games (and three starts), before his first outing in a World Series tonight, Stephen Strasburg was (3-0) with a 1.64 ERA, one walk, 33 Ks, and a stingy .220/.226/.341 line against in 22 IP this month.
Strasburg talked before the series opener in Minute Maid Park last night about how he’d handle the pressure of the big stage of a start in the Fall Classic.
“I’ve never done it before. I know what I expect of myself. I’m going to hold true to that. That’s all I can really control,” Strasburg said.
Stephen Strasburg, 95mph Fastball and 83mph Curveball, Overlay pic.twitter.com/blW5rZsJS9— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 24, 2019
“My approach is everything and how I respond to whatever happens once the ball leaves my hand is just as important.”
Strasburg took the mound with a 2-0 lead in Game 2, but gave up a two-out, two-run home run to left by Alex Bregman on a 2-2 changeup that was up in the zone, over the middle and Bregman did not miss it. 2-2.
Light show ft. @ABREG_1 #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/sHYkp4Ynx8— Houston Astros (@astros) October 24, 2019
Strasburg held it there through five, working around three hits between the second and fifth after giving up three hits and two runs in the first, but he came back out for the Astros’ half of the sixth at 86 pitches, and gave up a one-out double by Yuli Gurriel and a walk to Yordan Alvarez, putting him on intentionally after falling behind 2-0. Carlos Correa stepped in next, and popped out to short-center. Pinch hitter Kyle Tucker got a two-out opportunity, and K’d looking at a nasty, high, full-count curve that dropped in for a called third strike.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 114 P, 71 S, 7/1 GO/FO.
A #Strasmas tradition.#WorldSeries // #STAYINTHEFIGHT pic.twitter.com/NrycQBHFLt— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 24, 2019
Verlander vs the Nationals: As a 36-year-old starter, in his 15th big league campaign, Justin Verlander led the majors in wins this season (21-6), and finished the year with the 4th-lowest ERA (2.58), the most innings pitched (223), the second-most strikeouts (300), lowest BAA (.172), and the lowest WHIP (0.80), but after tossing seven scoreless in his 2019 postseason debut, the veteran right-hander had struggled in his last few outings this month.
Over his previous three outings heading into tonight’s start, the Astros’ righty had a 5.19 ERA (10 ER in 17 1⁄3 IP), and opposing hitters hit five home runs off him, even though they had just a .250/.301/.515 combined line against him.
In his pre-start press conference on Tuesday night, Verlander talked about the team he was facing in Game 2 of the World Series.
“I think they have a really good mix,” he told reporters. “They have speed. They have power. They have patience. They have plate coverage. I haven’t really done all my homework yet.
“They present a lot of challenges for a starting pitcher, especially when you’ve got to get them out more than one time in multiple ways. And obviously the two guys that are in the middle have kind of carried them thus far. Tough outs.”
It was the top of the order that caused trouble early in Houston, however.
Verlander gave up a leadoff walk to Trea Turner, an opposite field single by Adam Eaton, and a two-run double by Anthony Rendon in the first three at bats of tonight’s game, and it was 2-0 Nationals before an out was recorded.
Anthony Rendon did it for the #brand.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 24, 2019
2 bags and 2 RBIs in 1 AB.#WorldSeries // #STAYINTHEFIGHT pic.twitter.com/4c6y6yDQSA
That was all the Astros’ starter gave up through five, as the home team tied things up in the bottom of the first, and Verlander settled in, turning the game into the sort of pitchers’ duel everyone was expecting coming in.
Verlander was up to 98 total after a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth, but his 100th pitch of the night, a 1-0 fastball to Kurt Suzuki, went out to left for a leadoff blast in the seventh that put the Nats on top, 3-2, and a walk to Victor Robles in the next at bat ended the Astros’ starter’s night...
️ KURT SUZUKI DRIVES ONE DEEP INTO THE HEART OF TEXAS!#WorldSeries // #STAYINTHEFIGHT pic.twitter.com/R2XGzBOyyt— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 24, 2019
Justin Verlander’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 107 P, 69 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
Turn-On: Trea Turner started Game 2 of the World Series with a 23-game on-base streak, which went back to September 17th, and over which he had a .320 AVG, nine doubles, six home runs, 13 RBIs, five walks, four stolen bases, and 19 runs scored, and he extended it to 24-straight games with a leadoff walk in the first at bat of tonight’s game, moved up on a single by Adam Eaton, and scored on a double to left by Anthony Rendon to make it 2-0 early.
BULLPEN ACTION: Ryan Pressly took over for the Astros with a runner on and no one out in the top of the seventh, and walked Trea Turner, putting two on with no one out, but he got the first two outs with another run scoring, only to have the Nationals’ fourth run come in on a Howie Kendrick grounder to the left side of the infield that Alex Bregman couldn’t handle, 4-2, and 6-2 on an Asdrúbal Cabrera single to center, and 8-2 on an error on a dribbler off of Ryan Zimmerman’s bat. That was it for Pressly...
Fernando Rodney took over with a six-run lead in the bottom of the seventh and walked the first batter he faced before getting three straight outs to end a 21-pitch frame.
Josh James finished up the seventh, and came back out in the eighth and struck out Victor Robles, who reached on a strike three/passed ball, and one out later, Adam Eaton hit a two-run blast to right on a first-pitch fastball to make it a 10-2 game.
Héctor Rondón took over with two on and two out and gave up an RBI single by Asdrúbal Cabrera, 11-2.
Tanner Rainey tossed a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth with a nine-run lead.
Chris Devenski gave up a solo blast by Michael A. Taylor in the top of the ninth, 12-2.
Javy Guerra got the bottom of the ninth for the Nats and gave up a one-out solo shot by Martin Maldonado, 12-3.
An error on a George Springer grounder and single by José Altuve followed, but both runners were stranded...
Final Score: 12-3 Nationals
Nationals lead 2-0 in World Series