HOUSTON — Stephen Strasburg threw 8.1 innings of 2-run ball and the Nationals defeated the Astros 7-2 in Game 6 Tuesday night and the Nationals went 1-0 today to force a Game 7 on Wednesday night. The World Series also saw history as for the first time ever, the road team has won the first 6 games of the Fall Classic.
The Nationals played small ball to start Game 6 against Justin Verlander. After Trea Turner’s infield single he was bunted to second by Adam Eaton. Anthony Rendon singled Turner home and it was an early 1-0 Washington lead.
George Springer answered in the bottom of the 1st with a loud double off the scoreboard in left field. He then advanced on a Strasburg wild pitch…Altuve the hit a high deep drive to Soto and even his cannon couldn’t catch Springer from that far away. Altuve’s sacrifice fly tied the game at 1-1. It was his 9th RBI of this postseason but his first since his walk off home run in the ALCS.
Alex Bergman walked up with 2-outs and the bases empty to chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” from the Minute Maid Park crowd. He rewarded the chants with an absolute blast that landed well into the stands in left field to make it 2-1 Astros in the 1st. The 3rd baseman carried his bat all the way to first base admiring his work, before botching a handoff to his first base coach. It was his 5th career World Series roundtripper, the most ever by a third baseman. Right after that Bergman moon shot, Yuli Gurriel jumped on the first pitch from Strasburg and gave it a ride all the way to the warning track before Soto tracked it into his glove with his back against the wall. Strasburg has made it our of the first inning but his 1-0 lead was a 2–1 deficit and Houston was hitting him hard.
Both pitchers settled in for the 2nd inning, neither allowing any base runners. Strasburg had the advantage in pitch count despite trailing on the scoreboard, getting through the first two inning on 20 pitches to Verlander’s 31.
Verlander got two quick outs on 4 pitches before walking Adam Eaton. Eaton ended a stretch of 7 straight retired batters. Rendon then worked a 10-pitch walk to bring up Juan Soto with 1st and 2nd, 2-outs. Verlander’s pitch count had reach 52 as well without even being through 3 innings yet. Soto grounded out to Altuve in JV’s 56th pitch of the night and the Nationals’ 2-out threat was over.
Strasburg had found his groove after a rocky 1st inning and after another 1-2-3 inning he was through 3 innings on just 35 pitches. He had also retired 7 straight Astros since Bregman’s home run in the 1st.
Howie Kendrick led off the 4th with a single and Ryan Zimmerman drew a 1-out walk. Verlander’s number up to 71 and there was only 1-out in the 4th inning. Four pitches later Victor Robles had gone down on strikes and Yan Gomes has flown out to corner in left field and the 35 year old ace had escaped another jam.
Gurriel worked a 2-out walk in the 4th, the first free pass issued by Strasburg. He was also the first Houston base runner since the 1st inning. He proceeded to walk Yordan Alvarez in four pitches and had to pitch with multiple runners on for the first time all night. He then struck out Carlos Correa swinging to end the 4th inning and keep his team’s deficit at 2-1 and was still at just 55 pitches.
Adam Eaton came up for the 3rd time in the 5th, having recorded a sacrifice bunt and a base on balls. The lefty took an 0-1 slider off Verlander and deposited it 381 feet away into the bullpen in right field to tie Game 6 at 2-2. It was the biggest game of Eaton’s career and he had just hit the biggest hit of his career in the World Series. With 2-outs m, Juan Soto took a 96 mph Verlander fastball way out to right field, a mammoth home run that was 111+ mph off the bat and traveled 413 feet. The young leftfielder carried his bat to 1st base as a response to Bergman’s earlier showboating. Soto’s blast had the Nationals back on top, 3-2, and Minute Maid Park day in stunned silence. Verlander got Kendrick to finally get out the 5th inning but his count was pushing triple digits at 93 and he was once gain trailing in the World Series.
Strasburg got into more hot water in the home half of the 5th inning when Springer’s double gave Houston 2nd and 3rd, 1-out. Strasburg made Altuve look silly for his 5th strikeout of the night. Trea Turner then made a great play scooping a short hop while shifted to the right side of the infield and Strasburg had Houdini-ed his way out of the pickle by retiring the Astros’ #2 and #3 hitters. The Nationals’ 3-2 lead remained intact through 5 innings and Stras’ pitch count was still at just 77.
Brad Peacock started the 6th inning for Houston meaning the Nationals had knocked Justin Verlander from Game 6 after only 5 innings and put him in line for his 6th World Series loss. He had also only struck out 3 batters and the 2 home runs he allowed had taken him from 1 up to 1 down. Peacock got through the 6th inning on a mere 14 pitches, sending Asdrubal Cabrera, Zimmerman and Robles down in order for another scoreless inning of relief in this World Series.
Strasburg worked around a lead off single from Bregman, striking out Correa to record his 6th K of the night. It also meant he was through the 6th inning for the 5th time in 5 starts this postseason and had done so throwing just 86 pitches. Two-thirds of the way through Games 6 and Stephen Strasburg was doing everything in his power to carry his squad to victory.
Gomes singled off Peacock leading off the 7th inning to give the Nationals their first baserunners since Verlander left the game. He also turned over the lineup to the top of the Nationals order. Turner appeared safe at 1st when Peacock’s throw got away from Gurriel, allowing he and Gomes to advance to 2nd and 3rd. The Nats’ dugout was apoplectic when home plate umpire Sam Holbrook ruled Turner out for runner interference and made Gomes return to 1st base. The play went to replay review and after several minutes, the replay umpires in New York ruled that the call on the field be upheld.
Will Harris had entered in relief of Peacock following the controversial play and two batters later Anthony Rendon cashed in two more runs for Washington with a 2-run homer to deep left field. The Nationals’ lead swelled to 3, 5-2, and, but Davey Martinez couldn’t put aside his disgust for the Turner call. He got into it a heated exchange with Holbrook and was ejected from the game, despite Rendon’s home run giving his team breathing room. Martinez also seemed to make contact with the umpires, opening the door to a possible suspension for Game 7, if his team could hold on and make it there.
Strasburg came out again for the 7th and posed another 1-2-3 inning, his 3rd of the night. He had also managed to make it 7 innings deep in less than 100 pitches, 97 to be exact. He was through the 7th inning for the 12nd time this postseason, the other being his NLCS 12-strikeout domination of the Cardinals.
Ryan Pressly came on to work a scoreless 8th inning for Houston, continuing his stellar postseason. Clearly recovered from his previous injuries, Pressly has been on the whole World Series.
Stephen Strasburg came back out for the 8th inning and Rendon started off with a do or die play charging a chopper to retire Altuve by less than half a step. Strasburg got the last two outs on just two more pitches, including get Bregman to pop up to end the inning. Strasburg had finished 8 innings in Game 6 on an astounding 101 pitches and his team took a 5-2 lead to the 9th inning.
Trea Turner laced a 2-out double to right field to left field to start a Nats rally in the 9th. Adam Eaton was hit by a pitch, doing a little bit of everything Tuesday night, as he added an HBP his sacrifice bunt, base on ball and solo homer. Rendon capped the scoring with a 2-run double off the wall in right field, running his total to 5 RBIs for the game (in his hometown of Houston) and the Nationals had blown Game 6 open, 7-2.
Strasburg come out again to start the 9th, attempting to go the distance in his legendary start. Cabrera made a great barehanded play on a ball the deflected off Strasburg’s glove for the first out of the inning. Strasburg’s night was over there. He had gotten 1-out into the 9th inning on 104 pitches and he had left everything on the mound in his final start of the year and was exiting with 7-2 lead, having gotten his team his team all but 2-outs in Game 6. Sean Doolittle came in to get the those final 2-outs and Game 6 was in the books. The Nationals had beaten the Astros 7-2 to force the two sweetest words in sports: Game 7.
The Nationals win on Tuesday night marked the first time in any of the 3 major American sports that play series where the road team has won 6 games. It has never happened in the history of Major League Baseball, the NBA or the NHL until now. Game 6 also showcased Stephen Strasburg stepping up and throwing arguably the best game of his career in the biggest start of his career.
Stephen Strasburg had gone on the road facing elimination in Game 6 of the World Series and threw 8 dominating innings to beat the team with the best record, not just this season. but over the past three seasons. Whatever negative adjectives have been attributed to Stephen Strasburg over the years, they were all thrown out tonight, as well as this postseason. He went 5-0 this October, joining Randy Johnson (2001) as the only pitchers in Major League history to win 5 games in one postseason and willed his team to Game 7 of the World Series. When asked after the gem about his postseason run, the righty said “You just try and set your own standards and set your own expectations. For me it’s just going out there and just emptying the tank and giving everything I possibly have…I can live with the results as long as I do that.” He did literally everything he could to get his team to the promised land, it’s up to them to Finish the Fight Wednesday night.
First pitch of Game 7 set for 8:07 pm.