Houston goes deep, gets calls, takes Game 5, 7-1
Max Scherzer was a surprise scratch. Gerrit Cole was back to being his usual dominant self, with some help from home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale.
It all added up to a 7-1 Houston win on Sunday that gives the Astros a 3-2 lead on the Washington Nationals in the 2019 World Series.
The word on Scherzer came about three hours before first pitch. The Nats ace experienced issues with his trapezius muscle on Saturday, and woke up in pain on Sunday.
Washington manager Davey Martinez turned to Joe Ross, who started eight games in August and September when Scherzer was out with another muscle injury, and availed himself well, going 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA in eight starts in that span.
Ross put up a scoreless first, but was touched up by Yordan Alvarez for a two-run homer in the second that put Houston up early.
The Nats got a leadoff single from Juan Soto in the bottom of the second, and Soto advanced to third on a sharp single to right-center by Howie Kendrick, but Washington’s issues with runners in scoring position came to a head again.
Ryan Zimmerman struck out on a pitch well out of the zone, and Victor Robles hit into a 6-4-3 double play, to end that threat.
Those would represent the two at bats with runners in scoring position for the Nats for the night.
Washington ended the weekend 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position.
Houston added another two-spot in the fourth, on a two-run homer off the bat of Carlos Correa, who took an 0-2 pitch that MLB’s pitch-tracking app registered as a strike, before he worked the count to 2-2, ahead of taking a slider from Ross out to left for the long ball.
Barksdale would have more issues with the strike zone, punching out Adam Eaton on a 3-2 curve that was well out of the zone in the bottom of the fourth, and then, most egregiously, after a Soto homer got the Nats back to within 4-1 in the seventh, and Ryan Zimmerman walked with two outs, he called Robles out on a 3-2 pitch that MLB’s pitch-tracking app registered as outside the zone, ending the threat.
The Astros added a run in the eighth on a Yuli Gurriel single off Washington closer Daniel Hudson, who also gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to George Springer.
The series heads back to Houston for Game 6 on Tuesday, with a rematch of the Game 2 pitching matchup, pitting Houston’s Justin Verlander against Washington’s Stephen Strasburg.
Story by Chris Graham