While homefield advantage has played no role so far in the 2019 World Series, the Houston Astros will be happy to return home to Minute Maid Park with the chance to clinch the title over the Washington Nationals. When the two teams last met in Houston, the Nationals were firmly in control of the series as they won Game 2 to go up 2-0 in the series with three games to play in Washington. Things couldn’t have gone worse for the Nationals over those next three games, losing every match. Now the pressure is on Washington to force a Game 7 in their quest for the franchise’s first World Series title.
The Nationals may have the road advantage in this series after an unexpected string of results in the series’ first five games has yet to see the home team win, as reported by MLB. If Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals manage to get the better of Justin Verlander and the Astros, it would be the first time in the history of the World Series that the away team has won the first six games. After losing Max Scherzer for Game 5, the Nationals will be relying on Strasburg to defeat Verlander for the second time this series, setting up Scherzer’s potential return for Game 7.
Strasburg’s impressive Game 2 performance is only the latest in the right-handed pitcher’s sterling postseason. His seven strikeouts over six innings, while allowing two runs, was par for the course as the pitcher boasts a 4-0 record with a 1.93 ERA over five appearances.
Verlander, on the other hand, will be hoping the surging Astros can help him avoid another one of his recent poor postseason performances and shake off the World Series hoodoo that has followed his career. In three of his past four starts this postseason, Verlander has allowed at least four runs. Compounded with his career record in the World Series of 0-5 with a 5.73 ERA, that will undeniably be a cause for concern for Astros fans. Still, it’s undeniable that Verlander is one of the finest pitchers in baseball, and with the Astros hitting as well as they have so far this postseason, he will be getting support in the biggest start of his career.
If the Nationals could take any positives from Game 5, it would be Juan Soto’s return to form after a quiet Game 3 and 4, with a multihit game that included a home run off of the Astros’ Gerrit Cole. Meanwhile, the Astros lineup has completely turned their poor postseason around and finally started picking up hits. Yordan Alvarez put his terrible hitting performances behind him and is now hitting 6-for-11 in the World Series. Michael Brantley (.400), Robinson Chirinos (.364), Jose Altuve (.360), Yuli Gurriel (.318) and George Springer (.316) have all performed well this series, while Alex Bregman’s 4-for-22 with two homers, Carlos Correa’s 3-for-19, and Josh Reddick’s 1-for-9 still continuing the slumps that have plagued them all postseason.