Stephen Strasburg’s postseason legend gained another chapter on Tuesday night in Game 6 of the World Series, as he allowed just two first-inning runs over 8 1/3 innings in a 7-2 win over the Astros that sent the Nationals to a winner-take-all Game 7 in Houston on Wednesday night.
Through six games, the Nationals and Astros are separated by just a run -- Houston's 28 to Washington's 27. The last World Series to be separated by one or no runs entering Game 7 was 2016. Before that, it hadn’t happened since 1967.
Now we get the first Game 7 in World Series history that features two starters who already have won a Cy Young Award -- the Nats’ Max Scherzer and the Astros’ Zack Greinke.
• Max, Zack meet in winner-take-all matchup
Here are 19 facts and figures from the Nationals’ Game 6 win that got us here:
Strasburg continues to dominate
1) Strasburg’s 8 1/3-inning outing was the deepest start by a pitcher facing World Series elimination since Curt Schilling’s complete game for the Phillies in Game 5 in 1993. The Blue Jays went on to win that Fall Classic in six games. Strasburg is the first pitcher to go at least 8 1/3 innings on the road while facing World Series elimination since Danny Jackson kept the Royals alive against the Cardinals in Game 5 in 1985. Kansas City won that Series in seven games.
2) This was the Nationals’ fifth win started by Strasburg this postseason, tied for most all-time with the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (2014), the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter ('11), the Phillies’ Cliff Lee ('09), the Phillies’ Cole Hamels ('08), the D-backs’ Schilling ('01) and the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte ('00). Scherzer has started four Nats wins this postseason and will look to join this list on Wednesday night.
3) Strasburg is the first pitcher to go 5-0 in a single postseason, although if he pitches in Game 7 he could either suffer a loss or improve to 6-0. The Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez (2002) and the D-backs’ Randy Johnson ('01) each won five games, but also suffered a loss.
4) After striking out seven batters on Tuesday night, Strasburg now has 47 K's this postseason. That’s tied for the second most in a single postseason, trailing only Schilling, who had 56 in 2001. In Game 5, the Astros’ Gerrit Cole reached 47 as well.
5) Strasburg now has a 1.55 postseason ERA as a starter. That’s the fourth-lowest ERA through a player’s first eight postseason starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only pitchers with a lower ERA in their first eight career postseason starts: Orlando Hernandez (1.22), Lee (1.26) and Orel Hershiser (1.52).
6) Overall, including starts and relief appearances, Strasburg has a 1.46 postseason ERA. There have been 165 pitchers with at least 40 postseason innings pitched since earned runs became official in 1913. The only ones with a lower ERA than Strasburg? Mariano Rivera, with a 0.70 ERA, and Sandy Koufax, with a 0.95 ERA.
Nats’ offense chips in, too
7) Juan Soto homered in the fifth inning, his third homer of this World Series and fifth this postseason. His three World Series home runs are the most by a player at age 21 or younger in a single World Series. The previous youngest player with three homers in a World Series was Charlie Keller -- who was 23. Soto’s five homers overall are also the most by a player in a postseason at 21 or younger, passing Miguel Cabrera, who hit four in 2003.
8) Soto’s homer had a 111.4 mph exit velocity. That’s the Nationals’ hardest-hit postseason homer since Statcast’s intro in 2015. It’s also his third 110-plus-mph homer this postseason. The only other player with three 110-plus-mph homers in a single postseason tracked by Statcast was Kyle Schwarber, in ‘15.
• Carried away: Bregman, Soto bring bats to 1B
9) Soto’s homer and one earlier in the inning by Adam Eaton were both off Justin Verlander, who has now allowed eight home runs this postseason. That’s tied for the most home runs allowed in a single postseason, with Clayton Kershaw in 2017.
10) Anthony Rendon drove in five runs and went 3-for-4 on Tuesday to help stave off elimination. Since the RBI became an official stat in 1920, he’s the third player to have at least five in a World Series game with his team facing elimination. Danny Bautista had five for the D-backs in Game 6 against the Yankees in 2001, and Addison Russell had six for the Cubs in Game 6 vs. the Indians in ‘16.
What it means
11) Strasburg’s performance sent the Series to a decisive Game 7. So what do the Nats’ chances look like playing in that game in Houston? Probably better than you think. Home teams are only 57-60 in winner-take-all postseason games. That includes 19-20 in the World Series, where home teams have lost three straight Game 7s -- most recently the Dodgers to the Astros in 2017 -- after winning each of the previous nine going back to 1982.
12) The Nationals have won four games when facing elimination this postseason. That isn’t a record, but to win the World Series, they’ll need one more. Five wins when facing elimination would be tied for third most in a single postseason with the 1981 Dodgers. The 2012 Giants and 1985 Royals share the record with six.
13) Not only have the Nats won each of the four times they’ve faced elimination this postseason, but they also trailed in each of those games. They are the first team in Major League history to have four comeback wins when facing elimination in a single postseason, according to STATS.
14) This is the first time in postseason history that the road team has won the first six games of a best-of-seven series. The only World Series where the road team had won the first five straight were 1996 and '06, but in Game 6 of both of those Series, the home team prevailed. In fact, no best-of-seven series in the NBA or NHL had ever seen the road team win each of the first six games, either. Now, the Nationals will try to become the first team to win a World Series without winning a home game.
• WS makes road-win history -- not just in baseball
15) The Nats are looking to become the seventh team to win World Series Games 6 and 7 on the road. The last team to win Games 6 and 7 of the World Series on the road was the 2016 Cubs. Before that: the 1979 Pirates, ‘68 Tigers, ‘58 Yankees, ‘52 Yankees, ‘34 Cardinals and ‘26 Cardinals.
16) The Nationals have won seven straight road games this postseason. That’s the second-longest road winning streak by a team in a single postseason. The only team to win more consecutive road games was the 1996 Yankees, who won eight straight away from home.
As for the Astros …
17) The Astros will be looking to polish off a World Series title with a Game 7 victory, just as they did in 2017 -- but this time, at home. However, home teams haven’t exactly seen the champagne popping lately in the World Series. The last time a World Series was clinched at home was in ‘13, when the Red Sox did so at Fenway Park. Each of the last five World Series have been clinched on the road, one shy of the longest such streak -- six straight from 1954-59.
18) Lest we forget, Houston began this Series by losing each of the first two games at home. The only teams to win a World Series after going down 0-2 at home are the 1996 Yankees, ‘86 Mets and ‘85 Royals.
• Home-field advantage? Astros set to take it back
19) The Astros had the best record in the Majors this season, and are now facing a Game 7, which they’ll be hosting. Teams with the best regular-season record are 12-19 in winner-take-all World Series games, which does include 1958 -- when the Braves and Yankees were tied for the best record, adding one to both the win and loss column on that record.
Teams with the best regular-season record are just 4-11 when hosting a winner-take-all World Series game.
Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.