The 2019 World Series kicked off this past weekend, with game one between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals kicking off on Tuesday, Oct. 22. This is the second time in three years that the Astros have represented the American League in the pennant, while the Nationals appear on the big stage for the first time in franchise history.
The biggest storyline, of course, is the Nationals dominating their way through the National League bracket in their first season without superstar slugger Bryce Harper, who left town to join the Philadelphia Phillies on a massive contract. Harper has to watch his former team compete for the World Series, and keep in mind that the Nationals never made it past the divisional round with Harper in the rotation.
Game One: Nationals: 5 Astros: 4
The matchup kicked off at 8:00 pm in Houston, with a pitching matchup between Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer and Astros’ likely Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole. Cole’s case for being the top pitcher in the league is quite easy to argue; in his last 25 starts leading up to the World Series, he has a 19-0 record with a 1.59 ERA. That did not stop the Nationals from tagging Cole for five earned runs through seven innings to hand Cole his first loss in 25 starts. Max Scherzer gave up only two runs through five innings. In the first inning against Scherzer, with two men on base, first baseman Yuli Gurriel took Scherzer’s fastball yard, crushing a deep shot out to left, sending second baseman Jose Altuve and utility outfielder George Springer around the bases for an early 2-0 lead. Following his mistake, Scherzer tightened up his pitching, throwing gas to the tune of seven strikeouts. The Nationals began their run on the scoreboard courtesy of a homer from first baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the second, then outfielder Juan Soto cranked a homer of his own deep to left-center in the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, the Nationals grabbed a three-run lead as Soto came to clean up, sending in third baseman Anthony Rendon and centerfielder Victor Robles for the scores. The Astros were able to add a couple runs in the seventh to make it 5-4, but the lead would ultimately hold and the Nationals were able to steal game one on the road to give them home-field advantage for series.
Game Two: Nationals: 12 Astros: 3
Game two started off with some fireworks as Rendon doubled to left, bringing in two runs to take an early 2-0 lead in the first. That lead would not hold as third baseman Alex Bregman blasted a two-run shot in the bottom frame of the first to knot the game at 2-2. The game stalled out for the next few innings, as Astros ace Justin Verlander kept the Nationals bats on ice through six frames of work until the Nationals offense exploded in the seventh. With Verlander hitting the end of his pitch count, the Nationals began raking all of his pitches, tagging two more runs on Justin Verlander before he was relieved by Ryan Pressly. Washington’s bats stayed hot, cranking out four straight runs on Pressly to give the Nationals an 8-2 lead. The Astros added another four runs between the eighth and ninth innings to open up a 12-2 lead, icing away the contest. Astros’ catcher Martin Moldonado homered to left-center in the bottom of the ninth, but that was the only excitement Houston would get as they leave home trailing 0-2 in the series.
Game 3: Astros: 4 Nationals: 1
Following two blowout losses to a Nationals team that doesn’t have close to the talent that Houston does, the Astros tightened up their ship and played with the same energy they displayed during their dominant regular season. Led primarily by Springer and Altuve, who had two steals and two doubles respectively, the Astros played clean defense and took what they could get from Nationals’ pitcher Anibal Sanchez, who finished the day after five and a half frames of work with four runs allowed and four strikeouts. Altuve’s base running really did the Nationals in, as he turned both of his doubles into scores on the ensuing at-bat. Osuna stepped in for Houston in the ninth to shut out the game, allowing a single to outfielder Adam Eaton and striking out Soto for the final out of the contest.
Game 4: Astros: 8 Nationals: 1
Houston headed into game four at a 2-1 series disadvantage, but with the momentum swing in their favor, their statement victory over the Nationals came from an unlikely hero. In a bold move, Manager AJ Hinch elected to roll with rookie pitcher Jose Urquidy on the mound, and the choice couldn’t have worked out better for Hinch. Through five frames of work, Urquidy racked up four strikeouts and didn’t allow a single run. For Houston’s offense, two runs in the first, courtesy of Bregman and Gurriel, gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Tacking on additional damage, shortstop Carlos Correa was walked to start the top of the fourth, and then catcher Robinson Chirinos took Patrick Corbin’s pitch yard, hitting the 404-foot homer out of the left-center field. Scoring some garbage time points against the already defeated Nationals, Houston continued to lay on the points, scoring four more in the seventh.
Following game five, Washington will head to Houston for game six on Tuesday, Oct. 29.