The World Series returns to Washington D.C. for the first time since October 7, 1933, when the Washington Senators were eliminated in Game 5 by the New York Giants. More than 86 years later, the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros will face off in the nation’s capital as the hometown team seeks to cap off one of the most impressive postseason runs in recent memory.
The Nationals have the advantage of a commanding 2-0 series lead after knocking off two of the Astros’ aces in Houston. The World Series victories are part of an eight-game postseason winning streak, with the Nationals setting a Major League Baseball record if they win tonight.
The pressure is firmly on the Astros, as they already face heavy odds based on history. According to MLB.com, in playoff series undergoing a 2-3-2 format, teams that have gone down 0-2 at home ended up winning the series just three out of 25 times. The last time a team defied those odds was when the 1996 New York Yankees competed against the Atlanta Braves, with that Yankees team being the only team of the last 18 World Series teams that had fallen behind 0-2 — regardless of where the games had been played — to eventually win.
Zack Greinke will be tasked with changing the Astros’ fortunes as he takes the mound. While his 0-2 record with a 6.43 ERA isn’t much to be optimistic about, Greinke did pitch well in his American League Championship Series starts against the Yankees. In Game 1 he pitched seven innings, striking out six and allowing three runs, while in Game 4 he gave up one run in 4 1/3 innings. Greinke faced off against the Nationals while pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier in the season and he only allowed two hits over 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
The Nationals are hoping that their dominance of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series won’t have a negative effect on starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, who has been on an incredible run but who hasn’t pitched since October 11. In his two postseason starts, Sanchez allowed only one run on five hits, with 14 strikeouts and three walks when pitching 12 2/3 innings.
While the pitching has been the center of attention throughout the series, that changed after the Nationals’ offensive explosion in Game 2. Over that eight-game win streak, Washington has outscored opponents 56-19. Right fielder Adam Eaton picked up his first career postseason homer in Game 2 and had multi-hit games in both World Series games. He was aided by left fielder Juan Soto who launched his third extra-base hit of the series in Game 2.
Outside of Jose Altuve, there isn’t much to say about the Astros’ offense. While Altuve has been hitting.358 with five homers during the playoffs, Michael Bradley and his.280 batting average is the only other player that is arguably having a good postseason. If the Astros fall behind 0-3 tonight, much of the blame will be placed on Alex Bregman (.233), Yuli Gurriel (.231, 10 RBIs), Yordan Alvarez (.213), George Springer (.167), Carlos Correa (.160) and Josh Reddick (.111) and their poor production.