Other than a Wild Card game, 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 in the first game of the 2019 NLCS against the Cardinals. Using manager Dave Martinez’s mantra of go 1-0 today, the Nationals of course won this game and headed back home with home field advantage at 2-0. To pitch your number four pitcher in the first game of the series with Anibal Sanchez and get a win set up the Nats to go with Max Scherzer on regular rest in this NLCS Game 2.
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 had his the chance to strike a major blow to his hometown team with a win and he succeeded.
For the Cardinals, they started 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 would be a tough day for him.
In the NLCS series opener, 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.
We wondered if a Cardinals pitchers throw at Soto in this game and you will have to watch to see. With veteran Adam Wainwright throwing in this game, we wondered if he would 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 was that Kurt Suzuki wass back in replacing Yan Gomes. In centerfield, Michael Taylor got another start as Victor Robles received 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: 7:00 pm EDT
Line-up from the Nationals graphic department: