The World Series is tied up, and just like that, it’s back to the aces who got things started. The rematch between Houston’s Gerrit Cole and Washington’s Max Scherzer will put one team a win away from a title, and the other on the edge of elimination. Can the Nationals leave D.C. with a shot at bringing the trophy back home? Or will the Astros have the better chance of hoisting another flag in Texas?
What’s on tap
8:07 p.m. ET: Astros at Nationals, Game 5
The view from inside the ballpark
WASHINGTON — Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton summed up where it all stands: “It’s gonna be a chess match. It’s going to be awesome. This is some good baseball. It’s gonna be a thinking man’s game.” They’re not discouraged. They know they have to face Cole, but they know they have Scherzer. They’re not down in the dumps about going 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position the past two games. Eaton and Trea Turner both recited some of the hard-hit balls that didn’t fall in Games 3 and 4. NO reason some of those balls won’t fall in Game 5.
“It’s baseball — we expected [the Astros] to punch back, they did and here we are,” Turner said. There is no loss of mojo, no such thing as momentum. It’s about playing the next game — or, in this case, the next two or three. “The series is back at zero,” Eaton said. “It’s the race to two wins. It’s the last three games, and we are going to try and treat it as a regular-season series. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and try and win two out of three.”
Of course, it’s not a regular-season series. The winner will get to sip the champagne. — David Schoenfield
A stat to impress your friends: The longest stretch of the road team winning in the World Series is five games, achieved twice — by the Braves and Yankees in the 1996 World Series, and by the White Sox and Cubs in 1906. Since the Sox-Cubs series was played entirely in Chicago, that isn’t quite the same thing, but what the Astros and Nationals could achieve if Houston wins Game 5 puts them in pretty rare company for this time of year.
1. Prediction reset: We’re at 2-2, who ya got and how many games?
Well, Nationals players are saying they’re happy to have Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg going in the next two games. The Astros are happy to have Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander going in the next two games. Which means … we’re going seven, my friends, which would put us back to Anibal Sanchez versus Zack Greinke and probably a whole bunch of relievers, maybe even including Scherzer and Cole. The Astros still have the edge in the lineup and the better bullpen. Houston in seven. — Schoenfield
I had the Astros in six going into the series, and I’m not budging from that now. Yes, the series is tied, but it certainly feels as though it has swung in Houston’s direction. Top to bottom, the Astros have a more talented roster, and that is starting to come into play more and more as we get deeper into the series. — Dan Mullen
2. We’ve had two games in each ballpark. Which one do you like better?
I like both ballparks. No doubt Minute Maid is a little more distinctive with the train and the look of the park, but I give the slightest of edges to Nationals Park. It doesn’t have the roof that is kept closed even on perfect days for baseball. It doesn’t have that joke of a left-field section that turns Minute Maid into a Little League park. The neighborhood around the park is in rapid transformation that is turning this area of the city into a popular destination for a game, dinner and beverages. But the best part of both parks: The fans are into the games. Both places are loud. Maybe a home team will actually win a game before this World Series is over. — Schoenfield
Give me Minute Maid. Nationals Park is a fine place to watch a game and a very good fan experience, but it’s completely lacking in one area: charm. Outside the stadium, it’s hard to tell the outside of the ballpark from surrounding buildings. From the home-plate view, you look out at two parking garages and no signature view in the outfield. At Minute Maid Park, on the other hand, you’ve got the train tracks and that distinct architecture in left field — the kind of things that make a ballpark stand out. I’ve also really come to enjoy the various standing-room-only perches around the field that add another element to the atmosphere. I only have one request: Play a postseason game with the roof open! It’s a much nicer ballpark when there’s open sky overhead. — Mullen
Only twice before has the road team won the first five games of the World Series. With Cole on the mound, there’s a good chance that will happen. On the other hand, the Nats did score five runs off Cole in Game 1, and he has been a little less dominant his past two starts than he otherwise has been since the end of May. Oh, and Scherzer isn’t exactly chopped liver, as your mother might say. A home team finally wins a game. Scherzer to Doolittle to Hudson. Nationals 3, Astros 2 — Schoenfield
The road team wins … again. The Nats got to Cole once, but can they really do that again? And Houston is so good at making adjustments when it sees a pitcher again that I see its hitters getting to Scherzer enough to get him out of the game, and once the Astros get to that Washington bullpen … Astros 4, Nationals 1 — Mullen
About Saturday night
Stud of the night: Give rookie Jose Urquidy his props — five shutout innings in his first postseason start, not to mention his first World Series appearance. He turned what was supposed to be a “bullpen game” into his game to earn the win.
Dud of the night: By giving up the tacked-on grand slam to Alex Bregman in the seventh inning, veteran reliever Fernando Rodney basically owns responsibility for putting the game out of reach. But after seeing the Nats’ bats shut down a second night in a row, the offense has missed a homestand it can’t afford to skip.
Highlight of the night:
Alex Bregman cranks a grand slam in the seventh inning to give the Astros an 8-1 lead.
Off the diamond
Social media says: After Game 4, Yuli Gurriel summed up what we’re all thinking: “Uh-oh. Best of 3. Watch out.”
Uh-oh. Best of 3. Watch out 👀
— Yulieski Gurriel (@el_yuly10) October 27, 2019
Quote of note: “Now we have two of our big horses going in the next two games. We just have to come back.” — Nationals manager Dave Martinez after his team’s Game 4 loss.
Best of the Fall Classic so far
Our running World Series MVP: With the Astros’ win in Game 4, we have a new leader — Houston catcher Robinson Chirinos. Homering for the second consecutive night, his blast opened the floodgates in Houston’s Game 4 romp after his Game 3 shot iced the win that brought the Astros back in the series.
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.