Sunday night’s Game 5 was yet another World Series blowout for the Houston Astros, who won 7-1 over the Washington Nationals. The series goes back to Houston with neither team getting a victory at home thus far.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers of this game.
Gerrit Cole had a rough start to this series, giving up five runs in a game for a loss for the first time since May. Cole made up for it in Game 5, going 7 innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run, issuing two walks and getting nine strikeouts. This adds to Cole’s already stellar 2019 postseason numbers.
Gerrit Cole has a 1.72 ERA in 36⅔ innings this October. His 47 strikeouts are tied for the 2nd-most in a second postseason, behind Curt Schilling's 56 in 2001— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) October 28, 2019
Joe Ross wasn’t even supposed to be here. With the Nationals facing the indomitable Cole for the second time in the series, Washington’s best hope to keep it competitive, Max Scherzer, woke up with back spasms so bad he had to have help getting dressed. There was no way he could start this game and Washington will be lucky if they can see him on the mound again at all in this series.
Enter Joe Ross. Ross had pitched in just two innings of this postseason, appearing in relief earlier in the series, before being asked to start in place of his team’s ace. And he did an admirable job, considering. Was he Scherzer-esque? No. But he did about as well as the last two Nationals’ starters did in this series, allowing four runs in five innings. I know that may seem like a lot of runs, especially considering how poorly Washington has been hitting since bringing the series home. But it’s not his fault that his offense couldn’t buy a hit against Cole. So he gets a spot on the winner list.
There were four home runs in this game, and Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa as well as George Springer all deserve a mention here for theirs. But for my money, Juan Soto’s was the home run that this game needed. It was Soto’s second in the series, coming once again against Gerrit Cole — this time in a game where he was dealing. Which makes it all the more impressive.
It was something the Washington fans desperately needed, having had very little to cheer for in this home stretch of the series in which their team has been outscored 19-3. In a game that featured only four hits by the Nationals, the fact that Soto had two is enough to be a winner for tonight. Though admittedly, it’s a low bar at the moment.
If you look closely at the Soto home run clip above, you’ll see a man in grey reaching for the home run ball. But he had already gotten one. This hero took Yordan Alvarez’ home run ball to the chest as he clutched the two beers he was double-fisting.
He held onto both Bud Light cans as the home run hit him in the chest. pic.twitter.com/7X5b0CNAEG— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) October 28, 2019
He didn’t spill a drop. And to cement his hero status, went on to tell reporter Ike Ejiochi of Fox 5 Washington D.C. that it didn’t even hurt, because the Astros weren’t hitting hard. Legend.
At this point, I throw my hands up with regards to the Nationals’ bullpen. Though Sean Doolittle, Tanner Rainey and Wander Suero all had scoreless appearances, the team’s closer ... did not. Far from it, actually. After Fernando Rodney gave up the grand slam in Saturday night’s game, I bemoaned the decision to not use a pitcher like Daniel Hudson to help keep the game close. And tonight, that is exactly what manager Dave Martinez did. And Hudson gave up three earned runs on four hits and a walk in 1.2 innings to help the Astros blow the game open. Yet again. And while it didn’t ultimately make a difference, I would argue that there is a difference to the fans in watching a game in which there’s a chance your team can come back vs. a blow out.
I believe the Nationals’ radio broadcasters said it best, “When you’re getting yelled at by both teams, from pitchers and hitters, you know you’re having a bad night” and home plate umpire Lance Barksdale certainly had a bad night.
His calls were inconsistent, but at least the inconsistency was consistent, I guess? At a certain point, you just know that no matter where the ball goes, you’re probably not going to like what he decides to call it.
I’m not generally the type of person who will blame the umpire for an outcome to a game and I won’t pretend to do so here. It’s unlikely the bad calls made that much of a difference, given the final score. But what does warrant scrutiny is Barksdale’s “respect my athoritah” attitude behind the plate. He asserts his power openly, making it known directly that he gets to control the outcome of their at-bat regardless of what actually takes place.
An umpire not calling a pitch a strike in the World Series because he was offended by the catcher's assumption that it was a strike makes the argument for robot umps a bit easier. https://t.co/cduRhXmpMz— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) October 28, 2019
A fan got booed
Barksdale ended up being incredibly unpopular in this game, with players and fans alike. But he was saved from being the most openly disliked man in the ballpark by an unidentified person who received deafening boos on the radio broadcast.
The broadcasters never mentioned it, despite having to pause because the boos and chants of “lock him up” were too loud to continue to call the game, so it’s unclear to me who that person could be or why they were being booed. I may never know.