World Series Game 2 was quite the wild ride. A series that was touted as an elite pitching matchup has devolved swiftly into chaos for the Houston Astros’ vaunted starting rotation. And somehow, despite the Nationals having the most questionable bullpen in the postseason this year, it was Houston’s pen that got rung up again and again last night.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers of last night’s game.
Sure, Suzuki’s home run in the seventh inning was only the start of the rally that ultimately took place, but it was the most important part. The Astros scored one more run, so technically Suzuki did not have the winning run, but it opened the floodgates. It also makes Suzuki the first player born in Hawaii to hit a home run in a World Series game. And the first catcher to hit a go-ahead home run in the World Series since Buster Posey in his 2012 MVP season. A home run that he hit off of Max Scherzer, because baseball is funny like that.
Adam Eaton and the friends we’ve made along the way
I’m sure there will be grumps out there complaining about the Nationals’ dugout celebrations last night, but you keep that to yourself. The Nationals’ celebrations were delightful and Eaton might just be my new favorite player. This was the dugout celebration after his home run to give the Nationals a 10-2 lead in the eighth
The Nationals are a treasure and I... think I love them? pic.twitter.com/yY5g9wDHrK— Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill) October 24, 2019
I mean, seriously, what is there not to love about this group?
Let’s be honest, if all had gone according to plan for both teams, we would have been unlikely to ever see Rodney in this series. That’s not a knock on Rodney, per se, more that the Nationals don’t tend to use anyone in their bullpen not named Hudson or Doolittle unless it’s a blowout, and no one was expecting a Nats blowout in either of these first games in Houston, against their top two starters.
But that doesn’t take away from what Rodney accomplished tonight. Not only did he pitch a scoreless seventh inning, he also became the fourth player ever to play in every single round of the postseason in both leagues, joining the company of Jon Lester, Carlos Beltran and Ben Zobrist.
Her ceremonial first pitch speaks for itself:
Despite breaking the record for the most career postseason strikeouts, Verlander got the loss in tonight’s game, continuing his run of six losses (and a no-decision) in World Series starts. As the kids say, you hate to see it.
To add insult to injury, or maybe that should be the other way around, Verlander attempted to field an infield single and made an excellent barehanded grab ... before this happened:
FAQ: How did Ryan Zimmerman reach on an infield hit?— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) October 24, 2019
As if that weren’t bad enough, thanks to Verlander’s history of trash-talk on social media, Yu Darvish served up some long awaited revenge against him after the play:
To be fair to Verlander, he wasn’t exactly terrible in this game. He pitched about as well as Stephen Strasburg, minus the home run and walk in the seventh inning. I would even be inclined to say it was just another case of a manager leaving their starter in an inning too long, except for the disaster that continued to unfold when Ryan Pressly took the mound in relief of him.
One thing to note, something that many people will be speculating about after this game, is the fact that the Astros removed Verlander’s preferred catcher Robinson Chirinos to bat Kyle Tucker in the sixth, right before Verlander gave up the home run and walk that led off the disastrous seventh inning. It’s hard to say it was the difference maker, but it was the first time Verlander had thrown to anyone else this season.
The sad part is Bregman actually started on the other side of this list. After going 3-for-18 in the ALCS, and 0-for-4 last night, I think that everyone watching his two-run first inning home run yelled “He needed that!” in unison.
Unfortunately for Bregman, Pressly, Verlander and the entire city of Houston, the baseball gods can be just as cruel as they are kind. The fact that he only got scored for one error in the seventh inning was an act of mercy by the official scorekeeper.
With the bases loaded for Howie Kendrick, he got a single that was bobbled not once but twice by Bregman, allowing Verlander’s fourth run to cross the plate, in the form of Victor Robles (who reached on a walk). What’s funny is the bases loaded by the Astros issuing their first intentional walk of the entire calendar year, to Juan Soto, thinking they were playing it safe (since they had two outs). Not so much.
Two batters later, Ryan Zimmerman hit a slow ground ball to Bregman, who made the catch but then threw the ball away past a frantic Yuli Gurriel, who hustled to save it, but two runs scored and Zimmerman reached second on the throwing error.
Not a great night or week for anyone from Houston not named Simone Biles, but the series is still young and moves to Washington on Friday where the Astros will be hoping for a little payback for the home games stolen from them.