Did we just see the most dominant road performance in World Series history?
The Astros certainly have a case after their 7-1 victory over the Nationals in Sunday night’s Game 5. Houston landed in Washington prior to Game 3 having lost the first two games at home and facing some daunting history (no team had come back to win a Fall Classic after losing the first two at home since the 1996 Yankees). Then, the Astros ripped off three straight wins in enemy territory, outscoring the Nats -- in front of raucous D.C. crowds that had waited so long for World Series baseball -- 19-3.
In doing so, the Astros became just the second team under the current 2-3-2 World Series format, following the Yankees against the Dodgers in 1949, to win all three of the middle games on the road without trailing.
That’s just one of several incredible statistics that are building in Houston’s favor. As the Astros head home for two chances to claim their second World Series crown in three seasons, here are 21 facts you should know about their third straight win in Washington.
1) The Astros held the Nationals to just one run in each of the three games in Washington, marking the first time that the visiting team during the middle three games of a 2-3-2 World Series allowed one run or fewer in all three contests.
The only other visiting team to post three consecutive road performances of one or fewer runs allowed was the 1968 Tigers, who held the Cardinals to one run in Games 2, 6 and 7.
2) This is just the third World Series in which the road team has won each of the first five games, joining the Yankees’ comeback win over the Braves in 1996 and the White Sox upset of the Cubs in '06. No World Series has seen the road team win each of the first six contests, which is in play Tuesday night in Houston.
Road teams have won seven straight World Series games dating back to the Dodgers’ 18-inning marathon victory over the Red Sox in last year’s Game 3, setting a record. Home teams are now 17-18 in the 2019 postseason.
3) The Astros outscored the Nationals by 16 runs in D.C. That plus-16 run differential is tied for the largest by any team in three straight games, all on the road, within any postseason series. The only other times it’s happened: the 2008 Rays at the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, the 1961 Yankees at the Reds in the World Series and the '03 Boston Americans at the Pirates in the World Series.
Washington also went 7-for-21 with runners in scoring position in Games 1 and 2. But the Nationals cooled off significantly in Games 3-5, finishing just 1-for-21 with RISP at Nationals Park.
5) The Nats were held to just three runs in their home games -- one in each game. Their fewest runs in any three-game span in the regular season this year was four, from May 5-7.
They were held to just one run in each game. The last time they were held to a run or fewer in three straight home games was Aug. 6-9, 2016.
6) With the Astros’ three homers in Game 5, there have now been 11 home runs by the road team in this World Series. That’s the most road homers in any World Series -- and there’s still at least one game left.
7) The Astros are the third team in the last 30 years to reel off three straight road wins in the World Series, following the 2016 Cubs (Games 2, 6 and 7 in Cleveland) and the 1996 Yankees (Games 3-5 in Atlanta). But the Nationals would make history if they come back to win the title, as no team has won four road games in a World Series.
8) After waiting 86 years to host another World Series game, D.C. fans will have to wait at least one more year to see a Washington club win a Fall Classic game at home. The last time that happened was when the Senators beat the Giants in Game 3 of the 1933 World Series -- 31,433 days prior to the Nats’ Game 5 loss on Sunday.
Cole train keeps rolling
9) Cole struck out nine Nationals on Sunday, raising his total in this postseason to 47. That’s tied with Randy Johnson (2001), Josh Beckett ('03) and Cliff Lee ('10) for the second-most strikeouts in a single postseason, trailing only Curt Schilling’s 56 for the D-backs in '01.
10) Cole’s strikeout of Adam Eaton in the fourth inning marked his 368th strikeout of 2019, passing Nolan Ryan in 1974 for the fifth-highest single-year total (regular and postseason combined) in modern history. Johnson holds the all-time mark with 419 punchouts in 2001.
11) If that was indeed Cole’s last start of this postseason, he stands in rarified air in terms of dominance. Sunday marked his fourth start this October with at least seven innings, seven strikeouts and one or fewer runs allowed -- the second most in a single postseason behind Schilling’s five such outings in 2001.
12) How’s this for quieting the opposing crowd? Including his two road starts in the postseason, Cole is now 8-0 with a 0.89 ERA (six earned runs across 61 innings) over his past nine starts away from Minute Maid Park.
13) Cole has faced 138 batters this postseason and allowed just seven extra-base hits. Three of those have been knocked by Juan Soto, who homered off Cole on Sunday night.
The only other player with three extra-base hits against Cole in 2019 was Joey Gallo, who faced him 12 times in the regular season. Soto has done it in just six plate appearances against Cole.
Houston’s sluggers lift off
14) José Altuve singled in the third to reach for the first time in Game 5. If reaching base sounds familiar for him, it’s because it is. Altuve has now reached base safely in 25 consecutive postseason games, tied for the third-longest streak with Pablo Sandoval and Boog Powell. The record is 31, by Miguel Cabrera, and the only other player ahead of Altuve is Chase Utley, who reached in 27 straight.
15) Altuve’s single also gave him 24 hits in October, putting him right on the doorstep of history entering Game 6. He’s now one hit shy of tying Darin Erstad’s AL-record 25 hits for the Angels during the 2002 postseason, and two hits shy of Pablo Sandoval’s record 26 postseason hits for the Giants in '14.
And Minute Maid Park just happens to be a place where Altuve has been unstoppable in recent Octobers. Over his last 22 postseason games in Houston, Altuve is slashing an incredible .400/.438/.800 with 10 home runs, 24 runs and 20 RBIs.
16) Carlos Correa swatted his 11th career postseason homer, breaking a tie with Albert Pujols for most postseason homers before turning 26. To be fair, it was Correa’s 48th career postseason game. Only Andruw Jones (61) played in more postseason games before turning 26, but he hit only seven homers.
Correa has the most RBIs (32) and most extra-base hits (21) by a player in the postseason before turning 26.
17) Correa’s homer was his third career World Series home run, tying Derek Jeter for most by a shortstop.
18) George Springer's home run was his 15th of his career, extending his lead over Altuve for most in Astros postseason history. Altuve has 13. It was also his seventh career World Series homer, the most by any leadoff hitter in Fall Classic history, breaking a tie with Hank Bauer and Lenny Dykstra.
19) Springer’s 15th dinger tied the great Babe Ruth and former National Jayson Werth for 11th most in postseason history, and ninth all-time by an AL player.
20) Game 5 was the seventh time that Correa and Springer homered in the same postseason game, extending their record. No other duo has homered in more than four postseason games together. The Astros are 7-0 in postseason games when both go yard.
21) At 22 years, 122 days old, Yordan Alvarez became the youngest AL player with a World Series homer since Tony Kubek for the Yankees in 1957. Kubek hit two in World Series Game 3, as a 21-year-old.
Of course, we know a National League player who’s younger had already homered in the series -- and did so again in Game 5 -- in Soto.