October 27, 2019

WS5: Astros 7, Nationals 1

Astros    - 020 200 012 - 7 10  0
Nationals - 000 000 100 - 1  4  0
Gerrit Cole dominated the Nationals for seven strong innings (7-3-1-2-9, 110) and the Astros belted three two-run homers en route to a 7-1 win in Game 5. The Astros have taken a 3-2 lead in the World Series, with the next two games (if two are necessary) in their home park.

However, playing at home may not be an advantage this October. Home teams are now 17-18 in this postseason and the road team has won the first five World Series games. It's only the third time in 115 years that has happened.

In 1906, all of the games were played in Chicago, so the White Sox and Cubs flip-flopped home parks every game, with no days off. The road team won the first five games with the White Sox winning the series at home in Game 6. In 1996, the Yankees lost the first two at home, won three in Atlanta, and came home to win Game 6.

No World Series has seen the road team win the first six games. Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg are the scheduled starters for Tuesday night.

Donald Ttump stopped tweeting for a few hours and went to the game. (MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Trump decided not to throw out the ceremonial first pitch "in order to make the fan experience as positive as possible".) Ttump was loudly booed the instant his name was announced and his orange face (Astros fan?) was shown on the Jumbotron in the third inning. The crowd also chanted, loudly, "LOCK HIM UP!!!"

Ttump's face turned from smug satisfaction to teeth-gritting annoyance the instant he realized he was being booed. There was also a Veterans For Impeachment sign behind the plate for a while. In the seventh inning, fans hung an "Impeach Trump" banner in right field. #LockHimUp, #BooTrump, and #TrumpBooed were trending during the game.

Tomorrow morning, the odds are good that Ttump will proclaim the crowd was cheering (no other president has ever received such applause at a World Series game, believe me, not even George Washington) and chanting "Four More Years!" (#FakeBoos) Or his anger will fester all night and he'll wake up pissed and start spewing at 6 AM. Or deep in his rotted soul, he'll convince himself the crowd was booing Melania.

Yordan Alvarez (3-for-3), Carlos Correa, and George Springer each went deep with a man on. Nationals starter Joe Ross (5-5-4-2-1, 78) was the victim of the first two blasts. Yuri Gurriel singled with one out in the second and Alvarez knocked a 2-1 pitch to the opposite field, where it landed in the first row. (Alvarez became the youngest AL player with a World Series homer since Tony Kubek of the 1957 Yankees. More importantly, a fan in the first row allowed the home run to hit him in the chest because he was holding a beer in both hands. He saved his beers AND got the baseball. Now THAT is an American hero!) In the fourth, Ross got the first two outs, but Alvarez singled through the shift into right and Correa donged to left-center.

This is probably the best time to mention that plate umpire Lance Barksdale had a horrible night (surprise!) judging pitches on the edge of the strike zone to his right, i.e., inside on lefties and outside to righties. There were a lot of pitches thrown in that area, on both sides of the "black", and Barksdale called a lot of them correctly, though judging by the ones he missed, he may have simply guessed much of the time and gotten lucky. It happens. But there is no question he blew a strike 3 call on Ross's 0-2 pitch to Correa. Pitch #3 should have ended the inning.

But the inning continued, thanks to The Human Element that everyone says is so essential. Of course, the most important human element at that exact moment was the fact that Joe Ross threw an inning-ending strike three, but, hey, baseball is so much better when the players don't decide who wins and loses, right?

The count was now 1-2. Correa fouled off two pitches, Ross threw a wild pitch, and Correa hit a home run, increasing the Astros' lead from 2-0 to 4-0. ... Don't ever think that umpires calling balls and strikes cannot change the outcome of a game. Cole was dealing, for sure, but Barksdale buried the Nationals with his inability to do his job.

And following in the footsteps of James Hoye, behind the plate in Game 4, Barksdale blew the outcome of the first batter of the game. Springer was behind 0-2, but fought back to a full count. Ross's eighth pitch of the at-bat was right on the line of the strike zone, but Barksdale ruled Ball 4.

The Nationals had a good opportunity in the second inning, trailing 2-0. Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick started the inning with singles, giving Washington runners at first and third. But Ryan Zimmerman could not check his swing on an outside curve and Victor Robles hit an 0-2 pitch into a double play.

Washington had only one baserunner over the next four innings until Soto homered in the seventh, cutting the Astros' lead to 4-1. Cole "walked" Zimmerman and struck out Robles on "called strike three". There are quotes around those words because Cole's pitches actually did neither of those things. Instead, Barksdale imposed his warped view of reality on us and we had to accept it.

The truth is, Cole struck out Zimmerman with Pitch #6 to end the inning ...

Which means Robles should not have come to bat and struck out, which he didn't do, of course (he walked, on Pitch #6).

On the blown call on Zimmerman, Astros catcher Martin Maldonado took a step or two towards the dugout before suddenly whirling around in disbelief. Washington catcher Yan Gomes did the same thing when Barksdale blew a 2-2 call on Michael Brantley in the top of the sixth. Tanner Rainer threw strike three and Gomes, confident that Pitch #6 was the first out, got up to fire the ball down to third. He also could not believe what he had heard.

A number of calls went against the Nationals in the later innings and that, coupled with the Astros tacking on three more runs, provoked a steady stream of annoyance from both the home dugout and the stands. ... Springer doubled to open the eighth and he eventually scored on Gurriel's two-out single. In the ninth, Maldonado singled and Springer crushed a 3-1 fastball to deep left, 435 feet away.

The Astros outscored the Nationals 19-3 in the three games (4-1, 8-1, 7-1), becoming the second World Series team to win three consecutive road games and allow one run or fewer. In 1968, the Tigers beat the Cardinals in Game 2 (8-1), Game 6 (13-1), and Game 7 (4-1).

The Astros' +16 run differential is tied for the largest by any team in three straight postseason road games with the Rays in the 2008 ALCS at the Red Sox (9-1, 13-4, 7-8), the Yankees in the 1961 World Series at the Reds (3-2, 7-0, 13-5), and the Boston Americans in the 1903 World Series at the Pirates (11-2, 6-3, 7-3).

The Nationals batted .307 (23-for-75) in Games 1-2, but only .175 (17-for-97) in Games 3-4-5. They were 7-for-21 with RATS in the first two games and only 1-for-21 in the last three games. They left 25 men on bases in their three losses and struck out 32 times.

The Nationals were held to three runs. Their fewest runs in any three-game span during the 2019 regular season was four, from May 5-7. And the last time the Nats were held to one run or fewer in three straight home games was August 6-9, 2016 (losing to the Giants 7-1, beating the Giants 1-0, and losing to Cleveland 3-1).

And so the clock on "Days Since A Washington Team Won A World Series Game At Home" will keep running. Game 5 was played on Day #31,433.

Cole has struck out 47 batters in this postseason, tying Cliff Lee (2010) for the American League record. Cole is also tied with NLers Randy Johnson (2001) and Josh Beckett (2003). Curt Schilling holds the record, with 56 for the Diamondbacks in 2001.

Cole has had four starts this October of 7+ innings, 7+ strikeouts and one or zero runs allowed. Schilling had five such starts in 2001.

In his last nine road starts (seven regular season, two postseason), Cole is unbeaten with a 0.89 ERA (six earned runs in 61 innings). ... Asked after the game if he lobbied manager A.J. Hinch for another inning, Cole said: "I was done."

José Altuve has reached base in 25 consecutive postseason games, tied with Pablo Sandoval and Boog Powell for the third-longest streak. Miguel Cabrera holds the record (31) and Chase Utley is second (27).

Altuve also has 24 hits this postseason, one shy of tying Darin Erstad's AL-record of 25 for the 2002 Angels. The Kung Fu Panda holds the "all-time" record with 26 hits for the 2014 Giants.

In his last 22 postseason games in Houston, Altuve is hitting .400/.438/.800, with 10 home runs, 24 runs scored, 20 RBIs, and a 1.238 OPS.

Gerrit Cole / Max Scherzer Joe Ross

Max Scherzer will not start Game 5, because of neck and back spasms.

Joe Ross pitched two shutout innings in Game 2. He finished the season with a 5.48 ERA, but in August/September, he posted a 2.75 ERA and a .674 opponents OPS in eight starts.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez:
Yesterday [Saturday] he had a little bit of spasms in his right trap and neck. They treated it. He woke up today a lot worse. And if you all know Max, obviously he pitched with a broken nose, he's been hurt before, he's gotten through things. When he comes in and says he's hurt this bad, he's hurt. And I can tell you now he's very upset.
I woke up this morning completely locked up. I couldn't even dress myself. I've pitched through so much crap in my career that would be easy to pitch through at this point. This is literally impossible to do anything with. I'm just hoping that the doctors are right and something could be possible for Game 7.
Martinez expects Stephen Strasburg will start Game 6 on Tuesday in Houston, which could also feature Scherzer in relief "depending on where we're at". Martinez added: "If we go to Game 7, Max starts Game 7."

The World Series has become a best-of-three: Tonight's game in Washington and two games on Tuesday and Wednesday (if necessary) in Houston.

Richard Justice, mlb.com:
The Astros are 65-24 at home including the postseason, and no matter what happens in Game 5 on Sunday, they're again World Series favorites.
I don't agree with that. The Nationals were only 43-38 on the road during the regular season, but they are 6-1 in the postseason, and the Astros still have to face Stephen Strasburg in Game 6. And as a man named Cabin once said: "Anything can happen in a Game 7."

Max Scherzer threw 112 pitches in only five innings in Game 1, but the Nats have relievers Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson rested and ready.

Gerrit Cole has logged 242 innings this season (including the postseason) and suffered his first loss in five months in Game 1. Tonight is his final start of the season, though it may not be his last appearance (see Chris Sale, 2018).
I hope I go home with nothing left in the tank. So whether [Sunday] is the last time I pitch or I get the opportunity to pitch another time after that, I just hope I'm absolutely dog tired by the time I get home.


Paul Hickman said...

at preciselyly 11.41 & 6 seconds

it will be exactly 15 years

memories of that little underarm "push" that changed the world !!!!!

betterthanthealternative said...

I was at the game. Barksdale was awful.
But the Trump booing and chant was wonderful. Loudest I was all night.

Jim said...

After an evening of Brit Drama on Detroit PBS (yes, I still do limited cable tv) I tuned in briefly to the game around 11pm. The ump blew strike 3, I forget who was up, he eventually flied out to end the inning. Anyway, Joe Buck intones, "well, no harm no foul then on that blown call strike 3". I turned the TV off. The likes of Manfred, Buck and Dave O'Brien seem determined to blow away my almost 70 years of following MLB.

allan said...

"no harm no foul"

Laura yelled that back at the TV with such disgust last night! We both HATE expressions from other sports being used in baseball. There are many. USE THE BASEBALL TERMS, FOR FUCK'S SAKE.