Friday night’s World Series Game 3 featured a reversal of fortune as the Houston Astros came to Washington, D.C. and stole a game from the home team. This series has been nothing if not expectation-defying. The Astros thought that they would have better luck at home with Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, meanwhile it seemed like the Nationals might have a better chance against Zack Greinke, who has been roughed up in this postseason so far.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from last night’s game.
Zack Greinke came through for his team, which had to feel good considering his overall playoff record. In 14 postseason starts in six seasons, he was 3-6 with a 4.44 ERA and it’s even worse if you take out his seasons with the Dodgers, the only run of success he had in the playoffs.
His first start in this year’s postseason, against the Tampa Bay Rays, was an unmitigated disaster in which he allowed six earned runs in less than four innings. So going into the series it seemed likely that he would be a pitcher the Nationals could get to.
And yet, in his very first World Series start, Greinke emerged victorious. It wasn’t a particularly long outing, lasting only 4.2 IP, so he doesn’t actually qualify for a win, but it doesn’t really matter. He helped his team win when his rotation-mates couldn’t. It wasn’t very efficient, with Greinke throwing 95 pitches in those 4.2 innings, allowing seven hits, three walks, and an earned run while recording six strikeouts. But it worked.
He got out of jam after jam of his own making against a Nationals team that usually excels with runners in scoring position.
Altuve had two doubles and scored two runs in last night’s game. When he came up to bat in the sixth inning, there was even an impressively loud “Jose, Jose Jose Jose” soccer chant. At Nationals Park.
Funny enough, Alex Bregman also got a smattering of “MVP” chants in that same inning as the Nationals intentionally walked Michael Brantley (who knocked in two of the four runs for Houston in the game) to load the bases for him. It ... did not work out so well for him as he grounded out to end the inning. He and Anthony Rendon, both MVP candidates for their respective leagues, are not having a great series.
For his part in the inning, Altuve hit a fielder’s choice that got him to second base when Kyle Tucker milked a rundown to get both runners in scoring position. It was fun to see Houston’s offense get their swagger back.
Speaking of swagger, Robinson Chirinos hit a monster home run off of the foul pole and gave the Nationals a run for their money in terms of dugout celebrations.
But nothing can top the biggest celebration in all of baseball these days, and that is our final winner of this game:
Listen, the song is extremely annoying after a while, I get it. I hadn’t heard it before the National League Championship Series and now it refuses to ever leave my head. But when you put it in the context of what the Nationals have done with it this year, thanks to Gerardo Parra, well, it’s just sweet enough to make it worth the hours and hours of brain space it will occupy.
There is something that is just so pure about 40,000+ people of all ages, from all walks of life, coming together to dance to a children’s song about a family of sharks. It has been growing throughout the year among the Nationals’ organization and for the first time, the whole country got to enjoy just a silly, silly baseball experience.
Uhh, I feel like I can just save us some time and put the entirety of the Washington Nationals on this list, with a couple of exceptions that we’ll touch on in a little bit. Juan Soto had a bust of a birthday night, with a couple of really rough fielding adventures and nothing to show at the plate. Anibal Sanchez got roughed up for all four of the Astros’ runs.
The offense couldn’t buy a hit with runners in scoring position, which is highly unusual for them. They were 0-10 with RISP and left 12 runners stranded. They usually pounce on the first sign of weakness from an opposing pitcher, but despite ample opportunity in the form of nine hits and five walks, they couldn’t get the job done.
Not to mention the sheer carnage on the field. Kurt Suzuki left the game after blocking a pitch that bounced off the dirt and hit him in the arm. Ryan Zimmerman saw his life flash before his eyes as a 98 mph fastball came up and in at his head, causing him to drop to the ground and evaluate his life choices. Finally, Trea Turner took a foul tip to a part of the body that one never wants to take a foul tip to, and quite honestly he should have been allowed to just take first base for his trouble. I sure hope he already has kids.
The players that get a pass for last night are Victor Robles, who knocked in the only run of the night for Washington with an RBI triple, and robbed Altuve to open the game:
Additionally excluded from the losers list are the Nationals’ bullpen. In the postseason so far, Washington has relied on two or three relievers with starters mixed in as well, which has led to a bit of a rough reputation. But tonight, Fernando Rodney, Joe Ross and Wander Suero combined for 3.2 scoreless innings to keep the game competitive, allowing just one hit and two walks between them.