This advertised pitcher’s duel became one-sided as the Nats smashed Jack Flaherty and knocked him out at the 4.0 inning mark with 4 earned runs, and Stephen Strasburg went 7.0 innings on 117 pitches of baseball with no earned runs, no walks, and 12 strikeouts. Stras lowered his postseason career ERA to 1.10. The Nats starters have now thrown 25 2/3 consecutive innings of no earned run baseball which is the second longest streak since 1905. More importantly, the Washington Nationals won 8-1 to take a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series, and the Nats are now one win from advancing to the final round in baseball’s season. Each game going forward is an elimination game for the Cardinals.
The offense got going on some small ball as Victor Robles singled in his first game in a week, and he took second base on a sacrifice bunt by Strasburg, and then scored on an Adam Eaton RBI single. Howie Kendrick added 3 RBIs and set a Nationals record of six RISP hits in a postseason series. Ryan Zimmerman had 2 RBIs of his own as the 35+ year olds were RBI machines. Robles had the only home run of the game, and he looked great in his return from a hamstring tweak suffered last week in the NLDS.
This game was about starting pitching and shutting down the Cardinals offense again. Strasburg was dominant and he executed especially when runners were in scoring position. The only run that scored was on a Juan Soto error when he lost his footing. Strasburg earned his third win of this postseason to improve to 3-0 and four wins in games he has pitched in.
There was some great defense with a diving stop by Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg put out the first fire of the game in the second inning after a lead-off double which Strasburg quickly extinguished after he snagged a comebacker and pivoted to tag out the runner at second base. After that, Strasburg was in control until the 7th inning which he struggled through after he was not given a strikeout on the leadoff batter which took Strasburg out of his rhythm.
“We’re feeling the love, and we love it,” Eaton said of the sell-out crowd. “It truly makes a difference. All of our guys feel it. In the ninth inning, everyone is standing up, and cheering. You can kind of feel the pulse of the area. We appreciate them showing up.”
As we mentioned in the previous article, the Nationals stuck with a theme of a heavyweight fight between Flaherty v. Strasburg so who better to hire for a boxing championship intro than Michael Buffer who yelled his trademarked “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!” call by to really get the sellout crowd of 43,675 into an early frenzy!
“It was nuts,” Scherzer said. “You’ve got Michael Buffer setting the tone? I mean, it makes for a good day. The fans were nuts. What an atmosphere for us to get behind. You could feel the energy in our dugout coming from the fans. What a moment.”
Every player who was asked about the crowd was complimentary including Zim who remembers some games back in the 100-loss lean years when getting 25,000 to show up was a big crowd. Rendon, who was critical of the size of the crowd on the day the Nats clinched a Wild Card spot, was pleased by this crowd.
“The fans definitely showed up today. It was nothing short of amazing during this playoff experience. … It was electric. It was awesome. We need this for a lot more games,” Rendon. “We have some unfinished business and a lot of games to go.”
The “go 1-0 today mantra” is working as the Nationals are 15-2 since late September. In Tuesday, go 1-0 with Patrick Corbin on the mound.
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats2) October 15, 2019