The World Series is coming back to DC! Nats complete NLCS sweep
The Washington Nationals scored seven runs in the first, then held on, by the skin of their teeth, it felt at times, to defeat St. Louis, 7-4, to complete a sweep of the Cardinals in the 2019 NLCS, sending the Nats to their first-ever World Series.
The win for Washington completes an improbable turnaround from a 19-31 start, a 3-1 deficit in the NL Wild Card Game, a 2-1 series deficit to Los Angeles in the NLDS, and then a 3-0 second-inning hole against the Dodgers in Game 5.
The Nationals played from ahead throughout the NLCS, never trailing, and leading in 29 of the 36 innings played.
That new script continued playing out in Game 4, as Washington jumped out to a 7-0 lead after one, aided by St. Louis fielding miscues, including an error by Kolten Wong and a misplayed fly ball by good-hit, no-field rightfielder Jose Martinez that gave the Nats two extra outs, which they translated into a pair of two-run hits, by Yan Gomes and Trea Turner.
But that would be all the Washington offense would do on the night, as Cardinals relievers shut down the Nationals from there, allowing just three hits the rest of the way, and no Nats baserunner would even get to second base after the first.
Starter Patrick Corbin was dominant early, striking out nine of the first 13 batters that he faced, but Yadier Molina finally broke through, hitting a solo homer with two outs in the fourth to make it 7-1.
The Cards broke through in the fifth, getting a bases-loaded RBI groundout from Tommy Edman and a two-run double from Martinez to get to 7-4, before Corbin was able to get out of the inning with pressure-filled strikeouts of Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna.
That would be it from Corbin, who struck out 12 and walked three in five innings of work.
Tanner Rainey pitched a perfect sixth, and Sean Doolittle, pitching earlier than anyone would have expected, needed only nine pitches to get through a 1-2-3 seventh.
The eighth got a bit hairy. Doolittle got the first two outs, but Ozuna singled to right, on a 2-2 pitch, and Nats manager Davey Martinez replaced Doolittle with closer Daniel Hudson.
Hudson hit Molina on the elbow on the 1-1 pitch, then after getting ahead of Paul DeJong 0-2, walked him, to load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter fell behind 0-2, fouled off a pitch, took a pair of 97-mph fastballs just off the plate to even the count, then grounded out to second, to allow Nats fans to exhale.
After Washington went down in order in its half of the eighth, Hudson was back out for the ninth, and this time, there was no drama. Kolten Wong flew out to left on an 0-1 pitch, pinch-hitter (and former Nat) Matt Wieters was retired on a foul pop on a 2-2 pitch, and then Edman, on a 1-1 pitch, flew out to Victor Robles in center for the final out.
And now … a week between games.
The World Series is set to start next Tuesday – in the home park of whoever becomes the American League champ, either Houston or New York.
Story by Chris Graham