Road teams have prevailed in all three games so far in this year’s Fall Classic, as the Houston Astros took Game 3 in Washington by a score of 4-1.
Houston took the lead in the top of the second and did not look back. The Astros showed early signs that they would hit well off of Washington Nationals starter Anibal Sanchez after center fielder George Springer singled on a swinging bunt and second baseman Jose Altuve scorched a ball to the warning track in the top of the first.
Shortstop Carlos Correa hit a double to left field that got the real momentum going for the Astros. Right fielder Josh Reddick singled to no-man’s land in shallow left field, and Correa was waved around third and could have been thrown out by left fielder Juan Soto, but his throw went over catcher Kurt Suzuki’s head.
The Nationals tried to answer in the bottom half of the second inning, with second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman hitting back-to-back singles. Those were followed by a strikeout looking to Suzuki and center fielder Victor Robles grounding into a double play.
Houston went right back to attacking Sanchez in the top of the third, as Altuve hit a double to left field and advanced to third base on an error from Soto, who had trouble picking up the baseball. Brantley then hit a pitch up the middle that deflected off the pitcher, but second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera could not get to the ball fast enough as the Astros tacked on their second run of the evening.
Washington had the bases loaded with two out in the bottom of the third, but Cabrera struck out swinging to end that threat. However, the most questionable Nationals call came in their turn of the bottom of the fourth.
After Robles hit a RBI triple down the left field line where left-fielder Michael Brantley also had trouble picking up the baseball, pitcher Anibal Sanchez was left in to hit with the tying run at third and one out. Sanchez would strike out on a foul bunt, making it more difficult to bring in the crucial run at third.
Jose Altuve laced another double in the top of the fifth and later scored on an RBI single from Michael Brantley, extending the score to 3-1. Houston added their fourth and final run of the contest from a solo home run off the bat of catcher Robinson Chirinos, who hit it off the left-field foul pole.
The score would stay at 4-1 from that point on. Washington threatened in the latter parts of the fifth and sixth innings. After Adam Eaton hit a single to begin the bottom of the fifth, Asdrubal Cabrera sent a charge into a pitch from Astros starter Zack Greinke, and it had the look of a potential home run as it soared through the air in right field. However, the ball landed off the base of the wall in right, and the Nationals held up Eaton at third. Josh James would relieve Greinke after 4.2 innings, and battled with Ryan Zimmerman and runners on second and third with two out. James prevailed after an eight-pitch duel, getting Zimmerman to strike out.
Washington put two runners on in the form of two walks in the bottom of the sixth, yet still could not find a way to move them around the diamond amid their threats.
Washington saw two baserunners over the course of the next three innings and the rest of the game. The Houston bullpen had shut them down, and Astros righty Roberto Osuna got Juan Soto to strike out looking to seal the 4-1 win.
After seeing a lack of production from their lineup and not the usual dominance from their pitchers in the first two games, Houston finally put it all together in Game 3.
Starter Zack Greinke surrendered seven hits and three walks, but his changeup and slider combo was lethal, getting the Nats to strikeout six times and only score once despite leaving 12 runners on.
The Houston bats found ways other than the home run to get runners around the bases, speaking to their 11 total hits, only one of which was a home run. Four Astros hitters saw multi-hit games, and Michael Brantley went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs batted in.
Perhaps the sharpest and most dominant Astros performance came from their bullpen. Josh James, Brad Peacock, Will Harris, Joe Smith and Roberto Osuna combined for 4.1 innings and allowed only two hits and two walks, striking out seven and keeping the Nationals off the board.
The Nationals have 32 base hits over the three games in the Series, two of which have come from third baseman Anthony Rendon. Rendon is 2-for-13 so far, with only two RBI. He also has two strikeouts and an error. Simply put, the Nationals’ offense can be even more deadly if they saw more production from their star and potential National League Most Valuable Player.
Washington still has the World Series lead, two games to one, and keep some pressure on Houston. However, the Astros were able to see that they can, in fact, hold down these championship-hungry Nationals.
Saturday night’s Game 4 will feature left-hander Patrick Corbin on the mound for the home Nationals, while the Astros have committed to a bullpen game starting with righty Jose Urquidy.