Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

WS Game 1 quick recap; shocking win for Nats


Can't even buy a beer; but he's already a post-season star. Photo via NYpost

Can’t even buy a beer; but he’s already a post-season star. Photo via NYpost

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.

14 Responses to 'WS Game 1 quick recap; shocking win for Nats'

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  1. Max stranded something like ten runners in his five innings, but he didn’t allow anyone to score after the 1st. That was huge. Give Rendon credit for busting it down the line on what could have been a broken-bat, inning-ending double play in the 5th, and to Eaton for going in hard at second. Rendon then busted it from contact on Soto’s double and scored what proved to be the winning run when Brantley foolishly went for a catch he had little chance of making and let the ball bounce away from him.

    The Nat bullpen will continue to be a tightrope act, but give Davey credit for his aggressive decisions there. Would we prefer that Rodney or Suero be given a chance over Suero? I have no idea.

    I’m apparently in the minority, but I’m not surprised that the Nats were able to hit Cole. As I noted yesterday, the Nats have been facing top-tier pitching throughout the playoffs. Cole isn’t that different than Buehler. Plus, as Soto noted, they’ve seen him fairly often in spring training.

    Wow. Much like the NLCS, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. The Astro lineup is resilient, and they’ve still got two aces coming up in Verlander and Greinke. But a Nat win in Gm 1 changes so many dynamics. They’re playing with house money tonight AND have their best postseason pitcher on the mound. Verlander has been shaky recently. Fingers crossed!


    23 Oct 19 at 8:44 am

  2. Scherzer definitely danced around a lot of self-inflicted damage; when was the last time you saw him put 10 runners on in 5 innings? Absolutely kudos to him. If he can get his stuff back, he’ll be unbeatable in game 5.

    Todd Boss

    23 Oct 19 at 9:15 am

  3. Err, Rodney or Suero over Rainey. I have no idea. They seem infatuated with Rainey’s velocity. He did pitch well in his two outings against STL. Suero has only made on appearance the entire postseason.

    Of course tonight’s plan is 7+ IP from Stras and not worrying about it.


    23 Oct 19 at 9:16 am

  4. To put in perspective on what were watching, every all time record for hitting before 21 years old now belong to just 2 people, Juan Soto and Mel Ott.

    Count me as stunned by last night’s victory, everything pointed to a loss.

    And now the Nats have their best pitcher toeing the slab tonight.

    Let’s not discount Karma: we’ve just found out that there is a scumbag in the Astros f.o. and that management’s response to him is repellant.

    Mark L

    23 Oct 19 at 10:00 am

  5. Tom Verducci on Juan Soto —

    “and a child shall lead them”

    Mark L

    23 Oct 19 at 10:53 am

  6. fun fact: 25 of the past 30 winners of Game 1 have gone onto win the World Series.

    Todd Boss

    23 Oct 19 at 12:01 pm

  7. I’m astounded at how folks are still underrating the Nats. Just saw that Stras is posted as the biggest underdog he has ever been for any start in his career. Um, did anyone bother to look at his playoff stats? Or Verlander’s?

    Look, I know the Astros have a WS win in their recent past and 107 wins. They’re a tremendous team. But since May 24, the Nats have won two more games than they have and have played significantly more “meaningful” games. Also, other than the addition of Greinke, this is the same Houston team that fell apart against Boston last year, losing four games in a row after winning the first one.

    The Nats have a REALLY GOOD team. The narrative that they don’t has played right into their hands. They’ve been underestimated the whole way. They’re not doing anything fluky. It’s not a fluke when you sweep and dominate the NLCS.

    The Astros could still come back and truck the Nats. But ALL the pressure is on them now. If Stras beats them tonight, they’ll be in a heap ‘o hurt.


    23 Oct 19 at 12:25 pm

  8. Nats being underrated: i think what i’m determining is this: on the National stage, the simplest narratives win. Houston won 107, the Nats 93. So obviously Houston is significantly better.

    Of course, it neglects the facts; if you throw out the first 2 months of the season … the Nats have a better record. Slightly better, but better. Arbitrary endpoints of these two teams from precisenly 5/23/19:
    – Nats were 19-31, Astros were 33-18
    – From that point, the Nats went 74-39. The Astros went … 74-37.

    So there’s basically no difference between the teams as a whole once you get past their awful start.

    I love how there were like 10 stories today like this “who the hell is Juan Soto?”

    Todd Boss

    23 Oct 19 at 6:12 pm

  9. I’ll make this simple: the “better team” is the one that goes into your house and scores nine runs off the two best pitchers in the AL.

    Any questions?

    Wow. Kickin’ butt and takin’ names. Our two starters got the grinding outs they had to get, while theirs didn’t. Stras may not have had his best stuff, but he may never have been better with everything on the line. Can we now bury “hot-house flower” along with “better team”?

    Do you think about using Max and Stras in relief over the weekend if you get leads and have a chance to finish the deal?


    24 Oct 19 at 5:09 am

  10. Let’s bring up an important factor — KARMA

    Have to admit, I’m stunned by this. Wow!

    Read something yesterday that the 2 most computer driven/no scouts teams in baseball were the Dodgers & Astros.

    Let’s hear it for scouts and old farts playing baseball.

    Mark L

    24 Oct 19 at 7:36 am

  11. So shouldn’t the navy alternate uniforms just become their only uniforms now?


    24 Oct 19 at 9:12 am

  12. What neither analytics nor scouting can completely give you is chemistry. The Nats have had teams before that were athletically strong, thanks to the scouting, but chemically weak, and perhaps weak in other areas as well (see the 2014 Giants comments about the Nats not having enough between their legs). Now, they’ve got both, but it’s the chemistry that’s really driving the train. They’ve intentionally built up the chemistry guys over the last couple of years — Kendrick, Eaton, Suzuki, Sanchez — and then had Parra and Cabrerra fall to them from the waiver wire. (Frankly, Cabrerra seemed like a jerk when he was with the Mets, but he’s joined the party here.)

    Werth was supposed to be the clubhouse eminence, but he was more brooding than anything, and Boswell has indicated several times that he really wasn’t that much of a “leader.” These guys are. They’ve got Rendon, Zim, and Stras playing along, something we’ve never seen before, but something that was really needed for this to become a TEAM. It is now, no doubt.

    We’ll always remember the 2012 team because that was the first one to make a run, and there were a number of folk heroes like Mikey Morse, T-Mo, Lombo, and the original Shark. But the current crop is more memorable, and well on the way to becoming the stuff of legends.


    24 Oct 19 at 9:55 am

  13. Also, someone please show Alex “Hands of Stone” Bregman clips of the Suzuki and Eaton homers so he knows how to act after he hits one. Or maybe he was just celebrating the fact that he got a hit, since he’s currently 4-for-26 across the LCS and WS.


    24 Oct 19 at 10:28 am

  14. I was way too busy to post on game 2. Just an unbelievable 7th inning. I’ll post tmrw.

    Todd Boss

    24 Oct 19 at 5:33 pm

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