The Houston Astros‘ win in Game 3 of the World Series stymied any shot at a sweep the Washington Nationals might have had in mind. The victory sets up a Game 4 showdown Saturday involving Patrick Corbin for Washington and a bullpen game from Houston to see if the Nats can get a game closer to the city’s first World Series title since 1924, or if they’ve locked in a return to the Astros’ home turf.
What’s on tap
8:07 p.m. ET: Astros at Nationals, Game 4
The view from inside the ballpark
WASHINGTON — MVP-level Alex Bregman has been noticeably missing from Houston’s lineup, as the third baseman hasn’t really put it all together for a long stretch this postseason. Could an intentional walk to the batter in front of him be what finally ignites Bregman?
Astros manager AJ Hinch said after Friday’s game that he’s sure Bregman will go to bed hoping the Nationals walk someone to bring him to the plate. Michael Brantley said he’s ready to see Bregman break out, and we should be, too. — Dan Mullen
A stat to impress your friends: The Astros’ bullpen held Nationals hitters to 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in Game 3, the first time a team went oh-fer in the World Series in that many opportunities since the Phillies set a World Series record for futility by going 0-for-13 in Game 1 of the 2008 World Series.
1. What’s the one thing you’ve never seen in a game that you think Game 4 could deliver?
Bregman with a three-homer game. OK, I’ve seen that before in a World Series — I was at the Albert Pujols game in 2011 and the Pablo Sandoval game in 2012. The only others to do it: Babe Ruth twice and Reggie Jackson. But it never has been done before in Washington! It never has been done before by an Astros player. The bigger point: Bregman went 0-for-5 in Game 3 and is hitting just .208 in the postseason, but he did hit into some hard outs Friday. He’s due. And he might deliver in a big way. — David Schoenfield
A World Series game in Washington … that takes less than four hours to complete. After a Game 3 that was anything but, I think Game 4 could deliver the first crisp and clean Fall Classic contest the nation’s capital has seen in my lifetime (or the lifetime of anyone under 86 years old). — Mullen
2. Are you buying or selling on Baby Shark mania?
What, you prefer those ThunderStix that Angels fans used to break eardrums in 2002? I’ll take Baby Shark any day over ThunderStix, Homer Hankies or the Rally Squirrel. Baby Shark, however, is awesome. Pure joy. When Gerardo Parra pinch hit, my wife sent me a text with the Baby Shark theme. Heck, Mina Kimes got Tim Kurkjian to sing it on the ESPN Daily podcast. Victor Robles did the shark chop after his triple. Baby Shark forever. — Schoenfield
You know what, I’m buying. It’s ridiculous. I mean it’s 45,000 fans screaming about a shark while moving their hands in unison. It’s people of all ages rocking various levels of shark costumes in the stands. But it’s fun. And it’s something that became the Nats’ thing completely organically, which is pretty cool in itself. — Mullen
Well, I just predicted three Bregman home runs, so I guess that suggests I will pick the Astros. I’ve also picked the Astros every game this World Series. It’s time to pick the Nationals. In a wild game, the Nationals win as Juan Soto drives in five runs and never gets another strike the rest of his career. Nationals 8, Astros 6 — Schoenfield
When Game 4 ends, we’ll know that this series is headed back to Houston. Astros hitting had a mini-breakout in Game 3 and I think it’s going to continue Saturday night even against the very tough Corbin. Houston batters hit six balls with plus exit velocity Friday night and only two of those were hits. Eventually those hard-hit balls are going to start finding outfield grass instead of Washington gloves. Astros 5, Nationals 3 — Mullen
About last night
Stud of the night: Let’s give Astros reliever Will Harris some love, because first he shut down a Nats rally in the sixth inning by retiring Trea Turner and Adam Eaton in the sixth with two men on base to protect Houston’s three-run lead, then he notched a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh, getting both Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon while he was at it.
Dud of the night: Soto going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts set the tone for a Nationals offense that generated opportunities — and then squandered almost all of them.
Highlight of the night:
Robinson Chirinos hammers a home run that bounces off the left-field foul pole to give the Astros a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning.
Off the diamond
Social media says:.
Jose Altuve JUST missed hitting a 2-run HR.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 26, 2019
Quote of note: “He was very aggressive early like a lot of their guys were on secondary pitches, so as the game went on we had to adapt a game plan based on their aggressiveness on all our secondary pitches.” — Hinch, on how his pitchers changed up their approach to Soto in particular and the Nats in general in Game 3.
Best of the Fall Classic so far
Our running World Series MVP: Juan Soto, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, a home run and a key double in Washington’s Game 1 win over Gerrit Cole. He followed that with a single, two walks and two runs scored in Game 2. It’s no coincidence that when Soto was held hitless in Game 3, the Astros won.
The play of the series: George Springer‘s near miss in the eighth inning of Game 1. With Houston down 5-3 and a runner on second, Springer hit a long drive to right-center that hit off the glove of a leaping Adam Eaton and bounced away. Kyle Tucker scored, but Springer had to settle for a double. Could he have made it to third? Springer said he wasn’t able to go full speed with Tucker tagging up. If Springer had made it to third, could he have scored on Jose Altuve‘s fly ball in the next at-bat? We’ll never know. Springer got no farther than second, and the Astros’ best chance to tie the score went by the boards.