So, in my preview, I thought that the Nats really could “steal” one of the two games in Houston. I never thought they’d steal game 1 by getting to Gerrit Cole. But they did; putting more runs on him (5) in just a handful of innings than he’d given up in 22+ across three previous post season starts. So much for narrative. And I don’t think he pitched “badly” per se; i think the Nats just hit the ball well and made him pay for upper-zone fastball misses like other teams have not.
Hand it to this team; this was a complete team effort to win. Max Scherzer just didn’t look sharp on the night, burning through nearly 110 pitches in 5 innings. He didn’t seem like he had any command of his off-speed stuff, and Houston is just too good of a hitting team to not make you pay. Patrick Corbin worked his way through his mid-start relief inning (notably; does this push his start to game 4 instead of game 3? Not a bad idea honestly if you think Anibal Sanchez is the hotter hand to take possibly two post-season starts), Daniel Hudson bailed out the shaky outing from Tanner Rainey, and Sean Doolittle kept it together to close it out. Great pitcher management on the night; Davey Martinez did not hesitate to yank Rainey and keep the inning from getting out of hand.
Then there’s the hitting: up and down the order, the Nats made it happen. Credit to Ryan Zimmerman for putting the team back into the game, of course credit to “working his way towards a post-season MVP award” Juan Soto for having a game of the ages on the biggest possible stage. But up and down the order, this team got timely hits.
I thought the Nats might be able to get to Verlander in game 2; can they possibly take two games on foreign soil again?
One other point: one through nine, this Astros lineup is stacked (well, at least 1-7). Geeze. All night i’m chewing nails watching them try to get through this order. Giving up “only” four runs seemed like an accomplishment; the Nats are going to have to hit this series moreso than I thought just to keep up.