Houston's aces take rare back-to-back losses

October 24th, 2019

It's hard to imagine, but it happened: and lost Games 1 and 2 of the World Series back to back -- and at home, no less.

The rare losses from Houston's pair of aces has the 107-win, top-seeded Astros facing a 2-0 series deficit against the Nationals as the Fall Classic heads to Washington.

Cole and Verlander hadn't taken a losing decision in back-to-back games all year. The Astros only dropped consecutive games started by Cole and Verlander twice, on April 2-3 against the Rangers and June 18-19 against the Reds.

Before the Nationals beat Cole in Game 1, Cole hadn't lost a game since May 22, a span of 25 starts and nearly five months. He was 19-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 258 strikeouts during that run. In Game 2, Verlander set a new Major League record with his 200th career postseason strikeout, passing Hall of Famer John Smoltz, but he allowed the tie-breaking homer in the seventh inning before the Nats broke the game open.

Cole and Verlander were one of the most dominant duos in baseball history this season. The two frontrunners in the American League Cy Young Award race, Cole and Verlander finished 1-2 in the AL in all three Triple Crown categories: wins (21 for Verlander, 20 for Cole), ERA (2.50 for Cole, 2.58 for Verlander) and strikeouts (326 for Cole, 300 for Verlander). They became the second pair of teammates to strike out 300 batters in the same season, after the D-backs' Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002.

But now, Cole and Verlander are the first pair of 20-game winners to lose Games 1 and 2 of the World Series at home in MLB history, according to STATS. They're just the second pair of 20-game winners to lose the first two games of the World Series at all -- the Dodgers' Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax were the others, in 1965 against the Twins.

If it's any consolation to Astros fans, the Dodgers actually came back to win that World Series in seven games -- thanks to Drysdale and Koufax. Drysdale rebounded to win Game 4, and Koufax threw shutouts in Games 5 and 7 on three and two days' rest, respectively.