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Nats rally for early runs vs. Verlander in G2 win

@AnthonyDiComo
October 25, 2019

HOUSTON -- Presumptive underdogs entering the first World Series in franchise history, the Nationals have done everything possible to transform themselves into favorites. A night after scoring five runs off Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole to hand him his first loss in five months, the Nationals jumped out to an early

HOUSTON -- Presumptive underdogs entering the first World Series in franchise history, the Nationals have done everything possible to transform themselves into favorites.

A night after scoring five runs off Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole to hand him his first loss in five months, the Nationals jumped out to an early two-run lead in World Series Game 2 against Houston’s other American League Cy Young Award candidate, Justin Verlander, on Wednesday night, then went on to win, 12-3, at Minute Maid Park. Anthony Rendon struck an early damaging blow off Verlander, doubling home a pair of runs in the first inning.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 22 WSH 5, HOU 4 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 23 WSH 12, HOU 3 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 25 HOU 4, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 26 HOU 8, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 27 HOU 7, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 6 Oct. 29 WSH 7, HOU 2 Watch
Gm 7 Oct. 30 WSH 6, HOU 2 Watch

Trea Turner reached base to lead off the game for the second consecutive night, this time with a walk. It's only the third time in Verlander's career that he's issued a four-pitch leadoff walk (including the postseason).

Turner moved to second base on Adam Eaton's single before both runners scored on Rendon’s double high off the left-field scoreboard. Rendon became the first batter in 2019 to record a hit off a Verlander 0-2 changeup, hammering it a projected 343 feet.

"I believe in just putting the ball in play," Nats manager Dave Martinez said. "Things happen when you put the ball in play, regardless of whether you get a hit or not. But good things happen when you constantly put the ball in play. And we've gotten better at that. And tonight was a perfect example."

Dominant for the Astros all season, Verlander has now struggled in the first inning of consecutive postseason starts and three of his last four. The Yankees scored four runs off him in American League Championship Series Game 4 on a pair of homers. Verlander has also allowed multiple runs in four straight postseason starts, after doing so only three times in his final seven regular-season outings.

Washington's potent lineup had plenty to do with that on Wednesday. A National League MVP Award candidate and Texas native, Rendon hit .319 with a league-leading 44 doubles during the regular season, then batted .414 with seven RBIs in nine NL Division Series and Championship Series games.

Even leading the World Series, 1-0, the Nationals had plenty of incentive to jump out to an early lead in Game 2. Only three teams have lost the first two games of the Fall Classic at home and come back to win the series -- the 1985 Royals, the '86 Mets and the '96 Yankees.

After Washington scored two in the top of the first, Houston answered in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer from Alex Bregman to tie the game. But the Nats' bats came back to life late, scoring six runs in the seventh, three in the eighth and one in the ninth.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.