Washington’s Nationals jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, then fell behind 2-1 in the bottom of the inning, but Stephen Strasburg shut the Houston Astros down after giving up two runs early, and the Nats homered their way to a lead with Adam Eaton and Juan Soto taking Justin Verlander deep in the top of the fifth inning, before Anthony Rendon hit a two-run blast in the seventh for a 5-2 lead in what ended up a 7-2 series-extending win in Minute Maid Park.
There will be a Game 7 of the World Series in tomorrow night. I repeat. There will be a Game 7 tomorrow night. Road field advantage is real.
That outing left the Nationals’ ‘09 No. 1 overall pick with a 1.93 ERA, two walks, 40 Ks, and a .234/.245/.374 line against in 28 IP in October.
As well as he’s performed in the postseason thus far in his career (1.34 ERA, six walks, 64 Ks, .222/.250/.313 line against in 8 G, 7 GS, and 47 IP), Strasburg wasn’t interested in analyzing why he’s handled the big stage so well, telling reporters that at this point in the season it’s a matter of winning games as a team.
“Everybody can judge any pitcher,” the 31-year-old right-hander said.
“I understand it’s a part of the game, but I think when you’re out there it’s about competing, and it’s about playing for the guy next to you, and doing everything you can to prepare and maximize the abilities you’ve been given.”
He took the mound in his second start in the Fall Classic with a 1-0 lead after an RBI single by Anthony Rendon in the top of the first, but George Springer dented the out-of-town scoreboard with a double to left on a first-pitch fastball, took third base on a slider in the dirt, and scored on a sac fly by José Altuve to tie it up, 1-1.
One out later, Alex Bregman unloaded on a 2-0 fastball and hit a no-doubter to left that made it 2-1 Astros after one in Game 6.
Strasburg retired nine in a row after Bregman’s home run, before issuing back-to-back two-out walks in the Astros’ half of the fourth, matching the total number of walks he’d allowed in his previous 31 IP this month, but he stranded both runners to keep it a 2-1 game, and he came back out for the fifth with a 3-2 lead after Adam Eaton and Juan Soto homered in the top of the inning.
Josh Reddick singled and George Springer doubled with one out in the Astros’ fifth, to put runners on second and third, but Strasburg got José Altuve to chase an 0-2 curve down in the dirt for strike No. 3 and out No. 2, and got a one-hopper to Trea Turner at second in the shift for out No. 3 of a 22-pitch fifth that left him at 77 pitches total, and he worked around Bregman’s leadoff single in the sixth in a nine-pitch frame that left him at 86 overall.
Stephen Strasburg, Wicked 87mph Changeup and 81mph Curveball. pic.twitter.com/5aaDQbZMJW— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 30, 2019
Given a 5-2 lead to work with after Anthony Rendon homered in the top of the seventh, Strasburg came back out and retired the side in order in an 11-pitch frame, and set the Astros down in order in a five-pitch eighth that left him at 102 total.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 8.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 104 P, 65 S, 10/3 GO/FO.
Verlander vs the Nationals: Justin Verlander gave up a total of nine of 14 runs he allowed in the postseason in the first innings of three of his five outings this October, with two of them in the opening frame of his start against the Nationals in Game 2 of the World Series.
His manager, A.J. Hinch, said after the Astros’ 12-3 loss in that game, that the veteran’s early-inning struggles are at least in part a result of the way the Nats’ stack the top of their lineup.
“I think I just noticed him facing their best hitters,” Hinch said.
“We stack our lineups nowadays from the get-go. And they put together some pretty good hits.”
So it’s, “... a little bit of the quality of the hitters,” Hinch said, adding, “I think most kind of big, elite physical pitchers may have a little trouble getting into the game.
“But JV has been exceptional the entire season, including the first inning. We have seen it in this playoffs, have a little bit of trouble in the first. But these are really good teams.
“From the get-go when they put pressure on you you’re usually facing a pretty good guy every time up.”
Trea Turner beat out a chopper to third base for an infield single (upon review) in the top of the first tonight, and a sacrifice bunt gave the Nationals their first runner in scoring position, which they cashed in an on opposite field single by Anthony Rendon, 1-0.
Verlander took the mound in the second with a 2-1 lead, courtesy of a sac fly by José Altuve, who drove George Springer, and solo shot by Alex Bregman, who homered in the home-half of the inning and tossed three scoreless innings to keep it 2-1 through four, but the Astros’ starter threw a slider up in the zone inside to Adam Eaton that ended up sailing out to right field in Minute Maid Park for a game-tying home run, 2-2.
Juan Soto stepped in one out later and hit a 3-1 fastball from Verlander out to right for a go-ahead home run that was absolutely crushed, 3-2.
Juan Soto is the youngest player in @MLB history to hit 3 HRs in a #WorldSeries.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 30, 2019
Juan Soto has more HRs in this #Postseason (5) than any player 21 or younger in *any* Postseason.#ChildishBambino // #STAYINTHEFIGHT pic.twitter.com/BE3q4omeHW
That was it for Verlander, who got out of the inning behind by a run...
Justin Verlander’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 2 HRs, 93 P, 59 S, 3/6 GO/FO.
Rendone it Again: Anthony Rendon had hits in 11 of the last 13 games, going back to Game 2 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers before tonight’s game, going 16 for 48 over that stretch (.348/.421/.543), with six doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, seven walks, six Ks, and eight runs scored in that stretch, and he made it hits in 12 of 14 with an opposite field RBI single in his first at bat tonight in Minute Maid Park. He finished the night 3 for 4 with a home run, double, and 5 RBIs after adding a two-out, two-run double in the top of the ninth.
BULLPEN ACTION: Brad Peacock, a 2006 41st Round pick by the Nationals, took over for the Astros in the top of the sixth, and retired the Nationals in order, with help from a ball called strike three on Victor Robles.
Peacock came back out for the top of the seventh, and gave up a single by Yan Gomes, and Trea Turner hit a dribbler toward the mound in the next at bat, and beat the throw to first, but the ball hit him as it got by Yuli Gurriel, and the home plate ump ruled Turner out and brought Gomes back from third base. It took a while for the umpires to review ... and they upheld the call, which was awful.
Will Harris took over with a runner on first and one out instead of second and third with no one out, and popped Adam Eaton up for out No. 2, but Anthony Rendon stepped in and hit a 1-0 cutter out to left for a 2-run blast that made it 5-2 Nats. Can’t take that back!
Dave Martinez just got ejected and had to be restrained from umps— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) October 30, 2019
Ryan Pressly got the top of the eighth for the Astros and retired the Nationals in order, striking out two.
Stephen Strasburg returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth got one out before he handed it off to Sean Doolittle, who got the final two out to send this series to Game 7 (but gave up a two-out double by Carlos Correa before getting out No. 3).
Final Score: 7-2 Nationals
World Series tied at 3-3