[ed. note - “The big news this afternoon is, of course, that Max Scherzer has been scratched from tonight’s start with a right trap and neck injury. We’ll have more on that news soon, but here’s the lineup post that we wrote before that news broke. Joe Ross gets the nod tonight, starting Game 5 with the Houston Astros on short notice when the Nationals determined that Scherzer wouldn’t be able to go.”]
Houston Astros’ Game 1 starter Gerrit Cole went into the outing having given up one run on a total of 10 hits in 22 2⁄3 innings pitched in his first three postseason starts, going (3-0) in those outings to extend an unbeaten streak which stretched back to the third week of May.
The World Series opener didn’t go the 29-year-old right-hander’s way, however, with Cole on the mound for seven innings in which he gave up five runs on eight hits in a 5-4 loss.
So what did he learn about the Washington Nationals’ lineup in that outing that he didn’t know going into the start, and what are the challenges of facing the NL champions again tonight in Game 5?
“There are always challenges that are involved in that,” Cole acknowledged.
“This being the largest stage that we can get on, certainly with the opponent being so well prepared, anticipate having to respond to some things tomorrow and hopefully we respond well.”
What impressed him about the Nationals in that outing, which was his first against the NL Champions since he was still with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017?
“I mean, they won some two-strike counts,” Cole said. “They battled. I mean, I feel like I’ve said this a few times since we’ve been to the postseason, our opponents have not taken a pitch off.
“But I feel like the intensity grows as we get deeper into October, just the intent and the uncertainty -- the intent and certainty on the approaches and on the focus on the pitches just continues to just raise across the board.
“And so you have to deal with that. You have to respond to that.”
The Astros have responded well after falling in a 2-0 hole with the losses in the first two games of the series in Houston, now it’s the Nationals’ turn to try to gain an advantage.
It’s Cole vs Joe Ross tonight, and Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said he’s confident in his team’s ability to once again bounce back after a long season in which they’ve done that repeatedly.
“I just told the boys, ‘Hey, we’re in the World Series,’” Martinez said after last night’s loss.
“‘We’re going to play Game 5, tied 2-2. Who would have thought that in the beginning?’
“So here we are. Let’s forget about it, can’t do nothing about the last two games. Let’s look ahead and get ready to play tomorrow.”