It's a whole new World Series as Astros pound Nationals, 8-1
WASHINGTON — Not bad for a TBA. Unheralded rookie Jose Urquidy outpitched all those big-name aces who preceded him, quieting Washington’s bats and the Nationals Park crowd, too.
Alex Bregman busted out of his slump with a go-ahead single in the first inning and a grand slam in the seventh, and the resurgent Houston Astros routed the Nationals 8-1 Saturday night to pull even at two games apiece in an unpredictable World Series that’s been one big road show.
Urquidy had never pitched above Class A before this year. This stage seemed surreal.
“A couple of moments,” he said, “I was thinking about, oh my God, I’m in a World Series pitching.”
Game 1 winner Max Scherzer takes the mound Sunday night hoping to get Washington a home Series victory for the first time since the Senators won at Griffith Stadium in 1933. In a rematch of the opener, Gerrit Cole goes for Houston after losing for the first time since May.
Visiting teams have won the first four games for the first time since 1996, when the Yankees broke the pattern in Game 6 against Atlanta to take the title.
Game 6 will be Tuesday night in Houston, when the Astros lose their road-field advantage.
“This is what it’s all about,” Bregman said. “This is a beautiful thing. It’s two teams battling it out. They’ve got great pitching, great offenses. It’s been fun so far, and just want to keep it rolling.”
Yuli Gurriel also drove in a run in the first as Houston strung together four singles in a seven-pitch span for a 2-0 lead against Patrick Corbin. Robinson Chirinos homered for the second straight day, a two-run drive that boosted the lead to 4-0 in the fourth.
Fans started leaving in the seventh, when the Astros sent 10 batters to the plate and battered the bullpen. Bregman, who began the night in a 1-for-13 Series slide, had the big blow, driving a low, inside fastball from Fernando Rodney into the left field stands of the ballpark where he was the All-Star Game MVP in 2018.
Bregman held his bat high as he slowly walked out of the batter’s box, then took 28 seconds to savor circling the bases.
Orange-clad Houston fans in the right field upper deck chanted “Let’s go Astros!” as Nationals fans were silenced. Wild-card Washington lost consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 13-14 against Atlanta.
“I think tonight was really the first time we really did what the Houston Astros offense can do,” outfielder Josh Reddick said.
Starting pitchers were the talk of the Series coming in, with Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, Scherzer and Corbin combining for 12 All-Star picks and three Cy Young Awards. The baseball cards of Houston’s Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke sparkle with 17 All-Star selections, two Cy Youngs and one MVP.
But there were just five 1-2-3 innings by starters in the first three games, and the most consecutive outs were turned in by Nationals veteran Anibal Sanchez, who retired seven straight in Game 3.
Urquidy, who rebounded from Tommy John surgery in 2016, exceeded them all.
“Maybe he doesn’t have the Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole name, but he’s got good stuff,” Washington leadoff man Trea Turner said.