The minimal goal for the road team in the first two games of a postseason series is to win at least one game in a split. For the Nationals, they accomplished that minimal goal with a win last night. Using manager Dave Martinez‘s mantra of go 1-0 today, the Nationals now could head back home with home field advantage at either 2-0 or 1-1 worse case. To pitch your number four pitcher last night in Anibal Sanchez and get a win sets up the Nats today to go with Max Scherzer on regular rest.
The city of St. Louis is Scherzer’s hometown. He was born in St. Louis in 1984 when the Cardinals were two years removed from a World Series win. As Scherzer grew up in the area, the Cardinals went through those gut-punch years of eight exits from the postseason and three series lost in the World Series as he was growing up. He endured a lot of tough losses as a fan. Finally, when Scherzer turned 21 and was in College, the Cardinals returned to glory with a World Series win. Out of Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Missouri, his hometown Cardinals drafted him in the 43rd round in 2003. Scherzer wisely decided to go pitch at the University of Missouri where he was scouted by Mike Rizzo who was with the Diamondbacks at that time, and the D’backs drafted him in the first round. Scherzer now has the chance to strike a major blow on his hometown team if he can help his Nationals win today.
For the Cardinals, they will pitch the righty Adam Wainwright in this game. He faced the Nationals exactly 7-years ago today in Game 5 of the NLDS and lasted 2 1/3 innings after giving up six earned runs. The Nats treated him rudely on that day, and the Nats hope to do the same today. Sure, this is a very different Waino who was a power pitcher then, and now he is a finesse pitcher who relies on a big curveball, but if he is not locating his pitches it could be a tough day for him.
Last night, there was a little side drama when Juan Soto stared down the Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas, and then grabbed his crotch as he does with his “Soto Shuffle” in a key at-bat with bases loaded. In fair play, Mikolas then grabbed his crotch while turning towards the Nats dugout after he retired Soto.
“I’m just going to laugh about it,” Soto said.
Will a Cardinals pitchers throw at Soto today? With veteran Adam Wainwright throwing in this game, will he go Sheriff McCann and use the so-called unwritten rules of baseball to intentionally throw at Soto in some old-school discipline on the 20-year-old phenom by taking a pound of flesh by bulls-eyeing a baseball at Soto’s posterior.
The only change in the Washington Nationals lineup is Kurt Suzuki is back in replacing Yan Gomes. In centerfield, Michael Taylor gets another start as Victor Robles will get another day on the bench to rest his sore hamstring.
Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals
Stadium: Busch Stadium II, St. Louis, Missouri
1st Pitch: 4:08 pm EDT
TV: TBS, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):