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Nationals Headed to Houston Down 3-2 and Desperate to Make History

What a rollercoaster ride this World Series has been. The Washington Nationals headed to Houston as heavy underdogs and took the first two games of the series, handing Gerrit Cole his first loss of the postseason in Game 1 and then, in Game 2, making Justin Verlander the first starter ever to go 0-5 in the World Series.

When the second game ended in the wee hours of October 24, it looked for all the world like then-20-year-old Juan Soto was destined to be named the World Series MVP, as he’d gone 4 for 7 with 2 doubles, a homer, 3 runs, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, and a 1.952 OPS.

But lord almighty did the pendulum ever swing, as the Astros headed to Washington and offered up a fresh reminder of why they were widely hailed as one of the all-time great teams. Over the next 3 days they swept the Nats, as they outscored them 19-3 and out-hit them .312 to .175, leaving every Nats fan in the world with an epic case of whiplash. Of course the Astros got a big boost when Maz Scherzer was scratched as the Game 5 starter with neck spasms — maybe, just maybe, he’ll be ready to go in time for Game 7, provided they get there.

Now, as the series heads back to Houston with the Astros up 3 games to 2, George Springer is the frontrunner for MVP with 5 runs, 2 doubles, 2 dingers, 4 ribbies, 6 walks and a 1.217 OPS. It would be Springer’s second World Series MVP in the past three years. Reggie Jackson (’74, ’77), Sandy Koufax (’63, ’65) and Bob Gibson (’64, 67) are the only other two-time winners.

This marks just the 3rd time ever that the road team has won the first 5 games of the Series, with the home team winning Game 6 and the title in each of the two previous instances. In 1996, the Yankees dropped two in the Bronx, swept the Braves in Atlanta, and then closed the deal back at Yankee Stadium for the first of three titles in four years, with John Wettland nailing down his fourth save to secure the championship and MVP. In 1906, the White Sox and Cubs drove back and forth across the city of Chicago, with the home team losing each contest until Game 6, when the ChiSox chased future Hall-of-Fame Mordecai “Three-Fingers” Brown with 7 runs in 1 ⅔ innings en route to their first title. The Astros are no doubt hoping for a similar outcome in Game 6; if not, Houston has a problem.

Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros
Stephen Strasburg vs Justin Verlander
Tuesday, October 29, at 8pm on FOX

Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros (if necessary)
Wednesday, October 30, at 8pm on FOX

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com