The Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros will face off in the 115th World Series, with Game 1 set for tonight at 8:08 p.m. on Fox.
Bottom 2nd: Scherzer Bounces Back
Max Scherzer had little trouble getting out of the second even if he is having a hard time keeping his pitches in the strike zone.
Yordan Alvarez drew a leadoff walk ahead of a fly out to right by Martin Maldonado. Houston’s No. 9 hitter, Josh Reddick, managed to get Scherzer to throw six pitches but popped out to Trea Turner in very shallow center field. Scherzer then froze George Springer on a terrific changeup to end the inning.
Top 2nd: Zimmerman Puts Nats on the Board
Ryan Zimmerman, the face of the Nationals essentially since the team arrived in Washington, homered to center on the second pitch he saw in a World Series game, narrowing the Nationals’ deficit to 2-1.
Gerrit Cole had started things off by retiring Howie Kendrick on a grounder to short and then kept Carlos Correa busy by inducing a pop-up from Asdrubal Cabrera that Houston’s shortstop also handled.
Up stepped Zimmerman, who joined the Nationals late in the 2005 season — the year they moved from Montreal. He launched a 96-mile-per-hour fastball 413 feet for just the second run against Cole this postseason.
Cole was able to recover, inducing a grounder from Kurt Suzuki to — who else? — Correa, to end the inning.
Bottom 1st: Astros Take the Lead
Houston, which came in as a heavy favorite, took a quick 2-0 lead off Washington’s Max Scherzer thanks to Yuli Gurriel’s two-out, two-run double off the wall.
Houston’s leadoff batter, George Springer, drew a seven-pitch walk and on Scherzer’s next pitch, Jose Altuve singled to left. Scherzer pulled off quite a feat in striking out Michael Brantley on three pitches, but he was wild on his third pitch to Alex Bregman and Springer was able to advance to third.
Scherzer finished a strikeout of Bregman on a vicious slider, but with runners on the corners and two outs, Gurriel lined a 1-2 fastball off the wall in left, bringing both runners home.
Carlos Correa struck out to end the inning, but not before Scherzer had spotted Gerrit Cole a 2-0 lead — which is more runs than Cole has allowed so far this postseason.
Top 1st: One Hit, and Little Else for Cole
Gerrit Cole quickly had to deal with a runner in scoring position, but nothing came of the Nationals’ brief threat.
Trea Turner led off the game with a sharp grounder to short that Carlos Correa couldn’t field cleanly, leading to an infield hit. On the next pitch, Turner stole second, just barely beating Martin Maldonado’s throw. Adam Eaton popped out to third on a bunt attempt and Anthony Rendon struck out, bringing up Washington’s powerful youngster, Juan Soto, who struck out swinging on a 99-mile-per-hour fastball.
Playing in Houston, the Nationals will have a designated hitter for the game, and they went with Howie Kendrick, who won the M.V.P. Award in the N.L.C.S.
1. Trea Turner, SS
2. Adam Eaton, RF
3. Anthony Rendon, 3B
4. Juan Soto, LF
5. Howie Kendrick, DH
6. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
7. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
8. Kurt Suzuki, C
9. Victor Robles, CF
The Astros went with a fairly typical lineup for them, with the only aberration being Martin Maldonado starting at catcher, thought that is typical in games started by Gerrit Cole.
1. George Springer, CF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Michael Brantley, LF
4. Alex Bregman, 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
6. Carlos Correa, SS
7. Yordan Alvarez, DH
8. Martin Maldonado, C
9. Josh Reddick, RF
Keys to the Game
Every game of this series could potentially be a marquee pitching matchup, with both teams boasting three terrific starters. In Game 1, it will be Max Scherzer on the mound for Washington and Gerrit Cole starting for Houston. There is no doubt that Scherzer, with his three Cy Young Awards, is the more accomplished of the two, but if you limit things to this postseason, the Astros appear to have a razor-thin advantage.
In three starts, Cole has a 0.40 E.R.A. over 22⅔ innings, with 32 strikeouts and eight walks. Opponents have hit .132 against him and Houston won all three of his starts. Scherzer has started three games and appeared once in relief, putting together a 1.80 E.R.A. over 20 innings with 27 strikeouts and eight walks. Opponents have hit .134 against him and the Nationals also won each of his starts. The difference largely boils down to Scherzer having had a rocky first two innings in his wild-card round start against Milwaukee
The Nationals have a Most Valuable Player Award candidate in Anthony Rendon and the Astros have one in Alex Bregman, but the best postseason hitter between the two teams has been Houston’s Jose Altuve who has a .349 batting average, .767 slugging percentage and a postseason-leading five home runs, including a walk-off against the Yankees in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series to send the Astros to the World Series. Rendon has been rolling for Washington, slashing .375/.465/.594, but he has just one home run. Bregman has struggled some, with a batting average of .257, but has made up for that some by leading all postseason batters with 10 walks.