The Nationals kept it rolling on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park, beating the Astros, 12-3, to take a commanding 2-0 lead. Now the Fall Classic heads to Washington, D.C., for the first time since 1933, with Game 3 set for Friday at Nationals Park.
Wednesday’s contest was tight early on, with a 2-2 tie after the first inning holding until the Nats erupted for six runs in the seventh. Washington went on to score 10 times in the final three frames, while allowing just one more run in the blowout.
Here are 17 facts and figures to know about Game 2 of the 2019 World Series.
Can the Nationals be stopped?
1) The Nationals have now won eight straight games this postseason, tied for the record in a single postseason. The other teams to do it were the 2014 Royals, '05 White Sox and ‘04 Red Sox. No team has won nine straight in a single postseason, which the Nats could do in Game 3 on Friday.
2) How good does that 2-0 lead look for the Nationals? Well, in all best-of-seven postseason series, teams grabbing a 2-0 advantage have gone on to win 71 of 84 times (85%). In those with the current 2-3-2 format, teams winning Games 1 and 2 on the road have gone on to win 22 of 25 times (88%). Each of the last 10 teams to grab a 2-0 lead on the road has won, including six sweeps -- one by the Nats against the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. The most recent team to overcome falling behind 2-0 at home was the 1996 Yankees in the World Series against the Braves. The other two? The '85 Royals over the Cardinals and the ‘86 Mets over the Red Sox.
3) The Nationals combined to score 17 runs in Houston in Games 1 and 2, no small feat in games started by Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. Those 17 runs are the third most by any road team in the first two games of a World Series. It’s the most that a team has scored on the road in the first two games in the Fall Classic since the Yankees scored 20 in the first two contests in Pittsburgh in the 1960 World Series.
4) Washington’s nine-run victory in Game 2 was the most lopsided win by a road team in a World Series game since the Cardinals beat the Rangers by nine runs, 16-7, in Game 3 in 2011. In fact, this was only the fourth time in the Divisional Era (since 1969) that a team won a Series game by at least nine runs on the road. The '82 Brewers and '96 Braves also pulled off the feat, both times in Game 1.
Strasmas comes again
5) Stephen Strasburg had to battle through 114 pitches, but he completed six innings while allowing only two runs. That raised his career postseason ERA to 1.34, which is still the second best in the live-ball era for a pitcher with at least five starts, trailing only Sandy Koufax (0.95).
6) Strasburg’s seven strikeouts made him the ninth pitcher to reach 40 K’s in a single postseason -- the first since Madison Bumgarner had 45 in 2014. Meanwhile, Strasburg has just two walks to go with those 40 K’s. His 20-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks second among pitchers with at least four starts in a single postseason, behind only Cliff Lee's 23.5-to-1 mark (47 K’s, 2 BBs) in '10.
Shoot that arrow
7) Fernando Rodney, who was 42 years and 219 days old on Wednesday, relieved Strasburg and pitched a scoreless seventh inning. That made him the oldest pitcher to appear in a World Series game since 45-year-old Jamie Moyer started Game 3 of the 2008 Series for the Phillies. The last pitcher that old to make a scoreless appearance was 42-year-old Joe Niekro in Game 4 of the 1987 Fall Classic for the Twins.
8) Rodney last pitched in the World Series with the 2006 Tigers, when he was teammates with Verlander. That makes him the 10th player in MLB history to go at least 13 years between Fall Classic appearances, according to Baseball Reference. Pitcher Jim Kaat holds the record of 17 seasons (1965-82), while Roger Clemens was the last pitcher before Rodney with a streak that long. The Rocket went 13 years between appearances, from '86 with the Red Sox to '99 with the Yankees.
9) With his relief appearance in Game 2, Rodney also became the fourth player in MLB history to have appeared in every round of the postseason in both leagues. He joined Carlos Beltrán, Ben Zobrist and Jon Lester.
The good for the Astros
10) Alex Bregman homered off Strasburg in the bottom of the first to tie the score at 2. It was Bregman’s eighth career postseason homer -- all of which have come off pitchers who have been an All-Star in their career. The others? Chris Sale (two homers), Clayton Kershaw, Blake Snell, Trevor Bauer, Kenley Jansen and Corey Kluber.
11) With his strikeout of Victor Robles in the second inning, Verlander became the all-time postseason strikeout leader with 200. That broke a tie with Hall of Fame right-hander John Smoltz, who struck out 199 over 209 career postseason innings. With his six-plus-inning start, Verlander has 202 postseason strikeouts in 182 2/3 innings.
And the bad
12) The Nationals have now beaten Cole and Verlander -- this year’s American League Cy Young Award co-front-runners -- in Games 1 and 2 of this Series. Before facing the Nats, those two pitchers had been a combined 45-13 in 2019, including the postseason. They also had not been charged with a loss in back-to-back games all year, and the team had only lost back-to-back games they’d started twice -- both on the road.
13) Cole and Verlander each won at least 20 games for Houston this year, and yet both took the loss in these first two World Series games. They’re the first pair of 20-game-winning teammates to lose Games 1 and 2 of a World Series since the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale and Koufax in 1965. They’re the first such duo to do so at home, according to STATS. It’s worth noting that the '65 Dodgers team did go on to win that World Series in seven games.
14) With Kurt Suzuki's homer in Game 2, Verlander has allowed a homer in four straight games this postseason. That’s tied for the second-longest single-postseason streak. Only Kershaw allowed a homer in more consecutive postseason games in a single year -- five straight in 2017.
15) Entering Game 2 of the World Series, the Astros had not issued an intentional walk all year, including the postseason. That streak ended when Ryan Pressly issued an intentional free pass to Juan Soto with two on and two outs in the seventh inning.
16) The nine-run loss was Houston's largest home loss in the franchise’s postseason history, surpassing the Astros' seven-run shutout loss to the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS this season.
17) The nine-run loss was also the second-largest postseason loss in Astros franchise history. The only time they lost a postseason game by more runs was in Game 2 of the 1997 NL Division Series in Atlanta, when they lost by 10.