So what’s really behind what’s being referred to as the road field advantage in the first five games of the 115th World Series, which has seen Washington take two in Houston before the Astros won all three games in Nationals Park? Are the teams more relaxed/or maybe less distracted while away from home, with fewer family members and friends around and ... room service?
“It could be,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said after the third straight loss at home left the Nats one loss away from elimination.
“I’m not a big room service guy. I like to go out and eat. Houston has got some pretty good restaurants that I like.
“Hey, I enjoyed our fans here, I really did. It was awesome. And I know they’re going to be behind us when we go to Houston, I really do.”
The second-year skipper said that in spite of the deficit, the Nationals were fine with going back to Houston, where they took the first and second games of the series.
“We won two games in Houston, we’re going back to Houston to play Game 6, and here we go. That’s all we’ve got to do is just worry about Game 6 right now.”
He told his team that he believes there will be two games in Minute Maid Park in the best-of-seven series.
“I told them, I said, I know we’re going to go 1-0, but we’re going to play Game 7, I believe that. So keep pushing.”
“I don’t really want to talk about a second game,” A.J. Hinch said after his team got within a win of a second World Series championship in three years.
“I’d like to wrap this up as soon as possible. And we’ve got Justin Verlander on the mound [in Game 6], and that brings a lot of confidence to our clubhouse.
“Their guy [Stephen Strasburg is] pretty good, too. We’re going to have to bring our best after a long flight. We have a day off tomorrow, we’ll be ready to play on Tuesday. But our confidence level is good.
“We’re going home to play in front of one of the best crowds in the playoffs and in the World Series, and hopefully get one more win.”
Playing in front of the home crowd didn’t help the Astros in the first two games, or the Nats in Games 3-5.
“Hey, if the road team keeps winning every game in the World Series, we’re in good shape, right?” Sean Doolittle asked rhetorically after throwing a scoreless inning in relief in the 7-1 loss in Game 5.
Doolittle was asked if there’s a difference between playing at home or on the road right now?
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t think so. I think we would prefer to play at home in front of our fans, that’s why these last three games were so frustrating.
“The fans were absolutely incredible. We just couldn’t give them anything to cheer for, and we feel terrible about that. They waited — how many years for a World Series?”
[Narrator: “86 years.”]
“That’s frustrating. And maybe we were pressing a little bit, trying to blow the roof off this place, maybe we were trying to force the issue a little bit. I really don’t know, but hopefully we can take care of business in Houston and come back and party with them.”
“I don’t know if there is a different vibe,” when playing at home or on the road, Adam Eaton said, after going 2 for 11 with two walks and two Ks in the three games.
“We definitely like playing in front of our home fans, but I don’t know, I think we play the villain pretty well as well.”
“Hopefully, again, we’re going back to their place, where we’ve had some success,” Eaton added.
“Hopefully we can have that kind of that villain mentality and kind of come together as a group on the plane tomorrow.”
“We’ve won two games in a row before this year and we’re looking to do that again.”
Will the trend of road teams coming out on top continue tomorrow night?
The Nationals are in a familiar position with their backs against the wall and the season on the line.
“What’s new?” Eaton asked.
“That’s kind of our feeling. Our back is against the wall? Winners come to play when their backs are against the wall, and true competitors you can see what you’re made out of. So we’re going to see what we’re made out of. We have a heck of an uphill battle in two days, and like I said, we’re going to see what we’re made out out of.”
“Must win game,” Doolittle mused, “that will be I guess, what, our third one of the postseason, so we’ve been through this a couple times.”
“It’s going to be good,” Juan Soto said of returning to Houston. “It’s going to be fun [going] back there again, and trying to play good baseball.”
It’s apparently just the third time in World Series history that the away team has won each of the first five games.
“That’s probably not the way anybody planned it out,” Nats’ catcher Yan Gomes said.
“Kind of hard to explain, but hey, we’ve still got games to play and I can promise you that we’re going to go out there and play our tails off.”
And they will be on the road? “Exactly, seems to be the advantage right now,’ Gomes added.