World Series: Washington Nationals rout Houston Astros late in Game 2 after five scoreless innings

One night after shocking the baseball world and beating Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole, the Washington Nationals got the best of another Astros ace, winning Game 2 by a score of 12-3.

Justin Verlander was supposed to be the experienced veteran and right the series after a surprising loss on Tuesday night. For the most part, Verlander was as solid as expected.

It took the Nationals nine pitches to get on the board against Verlander. Nationals shortstop Trea Turner drew a four-pitch walk to begin the game and was followed by an Adam Eaton single. Third baseman Anthony Rendon got the Nats to strike first, lacing a two-run double off the left field wall.

Verlander rebounded and got left fielder Juan Soto and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to strikeout, holding the Nationals to two runs in the first.

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman hit a no-doubt home run in the bottom half of the inning, answering the Nationals’ call and tying the game at two.

That score would stand until the seventh inning. With both starters still on the mound, Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki led off with a solo home run on Verlander’s 100th pitch of the night. Ryan Pressly relieved Verlander after he issued a walk to Victor Robles. The Astros then proceeded to fall apart. 

Alex Bregman’s glove did not play up to standards, and he was unable to field a Howie Kendrick grounder that would score one. He later made an errant throw that got away from the first baseman and would score two more Nationals baserunners.

In total, the Nationals sent 10 batters to the plate in their six-run seventh, but they did not stop there. Adam Eaton hit a two-run home run in the eighth and Asdrubal Cabrera later hit a RBI single. Michael A. Taylor even got in on the action, hammering a solo-shot in the ninth off Chris Devenski.

Houston would rally for a run in the bottom of the ninth when Martin Maldonado hit a solo home run of his own. The Astros even put runners on first and second with two outs, but Jake Marisnick grounded out to end the game.

Aside from the two runs Verlander allowed in the seventh, he and Strasburg essentially matched each other on the mound. Both went six innings and gave up seven hits, but Strasburg struck out seven and walked one whereas Verlander stuck out six and walked three. 

Five Nationals hitters had multi-hit games (all two hits apiece) and seven had runs batted in. Asdrubal Cabrera led the two teams with three RBI. Jose Altuve (3-for-5) and Michael Brantley (2-for-4) were the only Astros with multi-hit campaigns. 

Obviously, the Astros are going to need to see more production with runners prime to score. They had runners on the corners in the bottom of the third when Bregman hit a hard grounder to shortstop.

Perhaps the most threatening rally the Astros had came in the bottom of the sixth. Yuli Gurriel hit a double to left field, and Yordan Alvarez was intentionally walked. With runners on first and second and two outs, Kyle Tucker pinch-hit for Robinson Chirinos for a lefty-on-righty matchup with Strasburg. Tucker, although battling, fell short and did not come through as he struck out looking on a full count.

Houston’s ninth-inning rally showed some promise, but little-talked about guys like Jake Marisnick need to come through if the Astros want to tilt the momentum in this Series.

Houston also needs to rely less on the home run ball and more so on finding holes, gaps and other ways to push runners across the plate. Four of their seven runs in the Series have come via the home run, whereas six of the 17 runs Washington has scored have come from the long ball.

Now heading home to D.C., the Nationals plan to start Anibal Sanchez, who has been solid so far this postseason. He faces a much tougher lineup against these Astros, but momentum is in his team’s favor. 

The Astros will throw Zack Greinke, who will be making his World Series debut. A trait like that worked out for Stephen Strasburg, but not so much for Gerrit Cole. Greinke and his team will look to scratch at the Nationals and their 2-0 lead on Friday night while on the road.

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