1933 was one year removed from the legendary Senator, Walter Johnson’s retirement, a new house cost $5,750 and a gallon of gasoline was 10 cents, barely beating out a 7-cent loaf of bread. Those prices were right in line with the average weekly salary of $20. Times were different and a lot has changed since 1933, but one thing has not changed since the last time Washington played this deep into the postseason: Great pitching is the key to deep runs in October.
Tonight, for the first time in 86 years, a Washington baseball team is in the World Series. The last time this was the case was 1933 when the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins) lost in five games to the then New York Giants. That Game 1, at the Polo Grounds (demolished April 10, 1964 when Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez was in his mother’s womb) featured a matchup of MLB Hall of Famer Carl “The Meal Ticket” Hubbell for the Giants against Washington’s Walter “Lefty” Stewart, whose claim to fame is surrendering Babe Ruth’s record setting 60th home run in 1927. Tonight in Houston, great pitching will again be on display as the Washington Nationals begin their series against the American League champion Astros in their first ever trip to Minute Maid Park. The Nationals will be sending their ace “Mad Max” Scherzer to the mound to face off against Houston’s own flamethrower, Gerrit Cole, in a matchup for the ages.
Scherzer has been great this postseason, taking a no-hitter in the 7th inning in his only start of the NLCS helping Washington sweep its way to the World Series. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.80 and recorded a Hold in Game 2 of the NLDS with his 3-strikeout inning against the Dodgers after finishing the regular season with an 11-7 record and a 2.92 ERA. Despite starting the season 2-5, Scherzer went on to go 9-2 the rest of the way and would have most likely had even better numbers had he not missed a part of the summer with neck issues.
Cole, himself, is in the midst of one of the greatest stretches in Major League history having not lost a decision sine May 22. Since then, in 25 starts Cole is 19-0 with an ERA of 1.59, including this postseason where he is 3-0 with a microscopic 0.40 ERA. In essence, he has been unbeatable since May, however the Astros have lost 2 of his starts since then so it can be done, however, both of those Astro losses came on the road.
The Nationals swept their way through the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS and since the NLCS went to 7 games in 1985, 8 other teams have swept the series. Those teams are 1-7 in the World Series. The sweep gave the Nationals the opportunity to rest since last Tuesday, but since the Wild Card was added in 1994, the team entering the World Series with more rest is just 12-12. These “more rest” numbers get worse when you look at them since 2012, when the MLB added a second Wild Card. Since then the team with more rest is just 1-6, however that one win was last year’s Boston Red Sox, so they reversed the curse, so to speak, giving the Nationals hope to buck that bit of negative history.
The 2019 World Series also has the distinction of featuring arguably the greatest starting pitching matchups in the history of the Fall Classic. Tonight’s Scherzer/Cole matchup’s is followed on Wednesday night by Stephen Strasburg (18-6, 3.32)(3-0, 1.64 in postseason) vs Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58) in Game 2 and Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.25) vs Zack Greinke (18-5, 2.93) in Game 3 Friday night in DC.
First pitch tonight is set for 8:08pm eastern, as are all of the 2019 World Series games.
Game 1 (Minute Maid Park) – Tuesday October 22
Game 2 (Minute Maid Park) – Wednesday October 23
Game 3 (Nationals Park) – Friday October 25
Game 4 (Nationals Park) – Saturday October 26
Game 5 (Nationals Park) – Sunday October 27 (If necessary)
Game 6 (Minute Maid Park) – Tuesday October 29 (If necessary)
Game 7 (Minute Maid Park) – Wednesday October 30 (If necessary)