|5:08 PM PT6:08 PM MT7:08 PM CT8:08 PM ET20:08 ET0:08 GMT8:08 5:08 PM MST7:08 PM EST7:38 PM VEN4:08 UAE (+1)7:08 PM CT, October 22, 2019
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas Attendance: 43,339
Nats hope to end Cole's roll in World Series Game 1
Washington Nationals at Houston Astros
- A team from the NL East will square off against an AL West team in the World Series for the fifth time overall and for the first time since 1987 (Twins beat Cardinals, 4-3). Only the first matchup in 1973 (Athletics beat Mets, 4-3) featured teams currently in the division. The 1980 Phillies (beat Royals, 4-2) are the only NL East team to beat an AL West team in a World Series.
- Teams that have swept best-of-seven League Championship Series are 1-7 in the World Series all-time, losing each of the last five. Both the most recent loss in this scenario (2015 New York Mets) and the only win (1995 Atlanta Braves) were by NL East teams.
- The Astros won 107 regular-season games while the Nationals won 93. When there is a difference of 14 or more regular-season wins in a World Series matchup, the team with more wins has gone 7-2, including the 2018 World Series when the 108-win Boston Red Sox beat the 92-win Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.
- Entering May 24, the Nationals sat at 19-31, while the Astros were already 15 games over .500 (33-18). Since then, the teams have the two best records in MLB, with Washington going 82-40 (.672) and Houston going 81-41 (.664, includes postseason).
- Houston beat New York in the ALCS despite hitting just .179 -- it is the second-lowest batting average by the winning team of a best-of-seven series all-time, behind only the 2016 Cleveland Indians, who hit .168 in their ALCS win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
- Anthony Rendon is slashing .375/.465/.594 with five extra-base hits (1 HR, 4 2B) and seven RBI this postseason. He has picked up a hit in eight straight games, the second-longest streak in the postseason by a player for the franchise all-time, trailing only Gary Carter's 10-game streak from the 1981 playoffs.
- Jose Altuve is slashing .349/.417/.767 with five home runs this postseason. He hit two home runs in the ALCS, his fifth career playoff series with multiple home runs. Only Manny Ramirez (12), Bernie Williams (6), Mickey Mantle (6) and Derek Jeter (6) have more multi-homer postseason series all-time.
- Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander have struck out a combined 61 batters entering the World Series while Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg fanned 60. The only duo with more strikeouts in a postseason before the World Series all-time is Verlander and Scherzer (65 combined Ks for 2013 Tigers -- did not make WS).
- Scherzer has allowed one run in 15.0 innings (0.60 ERA) since the beginning of the NLDS, fanning 21 batters and holding opponents to a .102/.185/.184 slash line over this span. Cole is 19-0 in 25 starts since May 27 and has won eight straight starts, striking out 92 batters in 58.2 innings over that span.
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HOUSTON -- After stewarding his club past the exceptional bullpens of the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees en route to a second American League pennant in three seasons, Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch was asked if he preferred the Washington Nationals' more traditional approach.
Washington starters Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin logged a combined 26 2/3 innings in the Nationals' four-game dismantling of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, leaving their bullpen just 9 1/3 innings to cover.
The presumption is Houston will face more of the same when it hosts the Nationals in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday. Scherzer (2-0, 1.80 ERA this postseason) will start against the favored Astros in the Nationals' first-ever World Series contest.
"I'll believe it when I see it," Hinch said when asked if Washington will continue to be judicious with bullpen usage. "I think they should take their starter out after the third inning, to be honest."
The Nationals' reliance on starting pitching is a byproduct of the abundant talent available. Washington's quartet of starters finished 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA against the Cardinals, producing 40 strikeouts against only six walks in the NLCS. That dominating effort only continued what the Nationals accomplished during the season.
Washington's starters ranked second in the majors in ERA (3.53), and fourth in WHIP (1.19), strikeouts per nine innings (9.68) and opponents' on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.685).
The Astros also feature an exceptional rotation, with Houston starters pacing the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (10.54) while rating second in WHIP (1.09) and third in both ERA (3.61) and opponents' on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.672).
"I personally am a big fan of starting pitching," said right-hander Gerrit Cole, the Astros' Game 1 starter. "I grew up wanting to become a starting pitcher, and I'm a starting pitcher now. And there are a lot of really good starting pitchers on the other side of the field, guys that kind of emulate the role in terms of longevity, durability, creativeness, tenacity, grit.
"And so just a pleasure to share the field with them on the greatest stage at this point. And best of luck to them."
Cole is on an otherworldly run. He enters the World Series 19-0 with a 1.59 ERA over his past 25 starts, including victories in each of his three playoff outings. In his previous eight starts, he is 8-0 with a 0.77 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings.
"I've been in the situation, faced really good pitchers here in the National League over the years, (Clayton) Kershaw, (Jacob) deGrom, those guys," Scherzer said. "You just know you've got to come out there, you're going to be throwing up zeros. And you've got to try to match the intensity from your opponent.
"And Cole's had a terrific year. So obviously it's going to (be) one heck of a challenge."
Secondary to the test Cole will provide is the ability of the Nationals to restart their engines. Washington capped its sweep of St. Louis on Oct. 15, and after riding an emotional wave to the NLCS, excessive downtime would seem a threat to the momentum established in the postseason.
Washington overcame numerous obstacles to arrive in Houston, coming from behind to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL wild-card game before knocking out the league-leading Los Angeles Dodgers in a decisive Game 5 in the NL Division Series. What's one more?
"I truly believe that these guys are fired up to be here," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We played a lot of unbelievable games this year. We've come a long way."
--Field Level Media
Updated October 21, 2019