October 26, 2019

WS4: Astros 8, Nationals 1

Astros    - 200 200 400 - 8 13  1
Nationals - 000 001 000 - 1  4  0
Jose Urquidy (5-2-0-0-4, 67) pitched five shutout innings, retiring 15 of the 17 batters he faced, and Alex Bregman belted a grand slam as the Astros evened the World Series at two wins apiece, guaranteeing the 2019 season will end in Texas. The question for Sunday is: Which team will need only one victory in Houston to replace the Boston Red Sox as baseball's champions?

Bregman (3-for-5) finished with five runs batted in, as he also singled home the Astros' first run, off Nationals starter Patrick Corbin (6-7-4-2-5, 96). The night began with plate umpire James Hoye blowing an important call on the very first batter, ringing George Springer up on what was actually Ball 4:

Houston scored two runs despite the blown call, as the next five Astros reached base. Jose Altuve (2-for-5) grounded a single into left, Michael Brantley (3-for-5) singled to center, and Bregman also lined a single into center, for one run. Yuri Gurriel reached base hitting a smoking line drive to third. Anthony Rendon of the Nats made an impressive backhand grab, half-turned to his right to look at second base, then turned around to his left and fired to first. The extra half-turn meant his throw was late and the Astros led 2-0. Carlos Correa walked on a 5-1 pitch (more eagle-eyed work from Hoye, whose seeing-eye dog is quite handsome). Washington got a break when Robinson Chirinos hit into a double play.

Urquidy, who pitched 2.2 innings and struck out five Yankees in Houston's pennant-winning game, cruised through his five innings, allowing only two baserunners and never throwing more than 15 pitches in an inning (11-13-14 14-15). Rendon singled with two outs in the first and Yan Gomes doubled to lead off the third. Corbin bunted Gomes to third, but the top of the Nats' lineup came up short as Trea Turner grounded to first and Adam Eaton popped to shortstop.

Urquidy had pitched in only 11 major league games before tonight (45.1 innings). There have been only two pitchers who made a World Series start after fewer appearances: Marty Bystrom of the Phillies (seven games, 41.1 innings) in Game 5 in 1980 and Steven Matz of the Mets (eight games, 45.1 innings) in Game 4 in 2015. (All three starters pitched five innings!) Urquidy is also the second pitcher since the LCS began in 1969 to have his first career postseason start be a scoreless outing in the World Series, joining Jon Lester, who did it for the Red Sox in the clinching game of the 2007 World Series at Colorado.

Correa walked to start the fourth and Chirinos clocked a changeup 404 feet out of the park to left-center for a two-run dong and a 4-0 lead. (For those who keep track of such things, Chirinos is the sixth catcher to homer in consecutive World Series games and the first in 37 years (Mickey Cochrane 1930, Bill Dickey 1939, Roy Campanella 1955, Gene Tenace 1972, Ted Simmons 1982).) Jake Marisnick singled and stole second, but was stranded at third.

Once Urquidy was gone, the Astros came briefly to life. Pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra walked against Josh James, as did Eaton one out later. Will Harris came in and got drilled by his first pitch when Rendon hit it right back to the mound. The ball caromed off Harris to first baseman Gurriel, who gloved it on the infield grass, but had no play. Juan Soto grounded out to Gurriel and a run scored. Howie Kendrick struck out.

Tanner Rainey relieved Corbin in the top of the seventh. He walked Kyle Tucker on five straight balls (one of which was somehow judged to be a strike by Hoye).

Rainey also walked Springer and, after getting a fly to right, was pulled. Fernando Rodney took over and ... well, let's just say Rodney did not break out his bow-and-arrow bullshit after his performance in this inning.

Brantley greeted Rodney with a single, Bregman golfed a fastball down the left field line and over the wall, and the game was effectively over. (It was the 20th grand slam in World Series history.) But Rodney decided to draw some more boos out of the Nats crowd by walking Gurriel and then walking Correa and then (after a force play at second) walking Marisnick. And then Rodney walked ... off the field. Wander Suero got the third out.

The Nationals put two men on in the home half of the seventh, but Turner stranded them by grounding out to first, as Gurriel slid into the bag, glove-first, to beat the runner. (Fox had some nice camera work on the replays.) An error and a walk put two runners on in the eighth, but Javy Guerra retired Howie Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman. A two-out walk was all Washington could muster in the ninth.

This is only the fifth World Series in which the road team has won each of the first four games. The other four: 1906, 1923 (though the games were played in the same city), 1986, and 1996. The Red Sox won the final two games of the 2018 World Series on the road in Los Angeles, so the current road winning streak is six games. The last time there was a streak that long was 1949-1950 (the final four games in 1949 and the first two games in 1950).

Also: Someone left a comment in defense of Brandon Taubman and the many players who had assaulted women . ... Seriously. ... Have fun.

Jose Urquidy / Patrick Corbin


allan said...

NOTE: Pro-Taubman Asshole Alert!

Paul Hickman said...

Yes I was thinking this away winning streak is getting a bit ridiculous ..... if Astros make it 7 then it may be the All Time Record ? So surely the balance of probabilities - trending towards the mean may indicate the Nats in Game 5 ?