After stealing Game 1 of the World Series, the Washington Nationals came back and won Game 2 in convincing fashion with a 12-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
Baseball fans witnessed a close game for the first six innings. Once Kurt Suzuki silenced the fans at Minute Maid Park with his go-ahead, solo home run in the seventh inning, the wheels came off for the Astros in a six-run inning.
Now the Nationals will head back home for three games with a 2-0 lead in the series and all the momentum on their side. A team that no one expected to make it here, then took the field as underdogs, is now two games shy of a championship.
Here are the winners and losers from Washington’s 12-3 win over Houston in Game 2 of the World Series.
Winner: Kurt Suzuki
Suzuki stepped in for his at-bat in the seventh already a winner. The 36-year-old’s defense behind the plate, both blocking a flurry of pitches in the dirt and throwing out Jose Altuve at third base, saved critical runs. That wasn’t enough for Suzuki.
The solo blast gave Washington its first lead since the opening inning. Perhaps just as important, Verlander exited shortly after and the Nationals opened the floodgates against Houston’s bullpen.
Loser: Justin Verlander
Houston has a serious problem. A night after Gerrit Cole threw an unexpected disaster to lose Game 1, Verlander delivered another underwhelming start for the Astros. He immediately ran into trouble from the jump by allowing a walk, single and then a two-run double in a sign of troubles to come.
Verlander didn’t record a 1-2-3 inning until the sixth inning. He then returned to the mound in the seventh and allowed the go-ahead blast to Suzuki before a walk ended his night. The Astros are now headed to Washington down two games with a shaky Zack Greinke scheduled for Game 3 and a bullpen game in Game 4 – it’s problematic.
Winner: Ryan Zimmerman
A team loaded with young stars is now two games shy of its first title because of its veterans. On a night when Washington’s 36-year-old catcher shined, so did the 35-year-old first baseman who has been with the organization since 2005. After hitting a home run in his World Series debut in Game 1, Zimmerman delivered once again.
As Washington held a 6-2 lead, Zimmerman pushed a run-scoring single that scored an additional run on Alex Bregman’s wild throw. Zimmerman hit the diamond in the bottom of the inning and made a marvelous web gem with an outstanding stop to end the inning and save a run. There are thousands of reasons the fan base and city love him, this World Series performance is just adding to that.
Loser: Ryan Pressly
Pressly and the Astros felt confident that he could pitch through the lingering issues in his surgically-repaired knee. It’s become evident that he’s not remotely close to his All-Star form.
He took the mound with the Astros only trailing by one run and left with the stadium emptying and the Nationals holding a decisive 8-2 lead. Plenty went wrong in the seventh for the Astros, but much of the blame must fall on Pressly’s shoulders and his knee.
Winner: Stephen Strasburg
Strasburg seemed destined for a similar fate as Verlander after allowing a game-tying home run to Bregman in the first inning. He then found a way to rebound by retiring six consecutive batters and allowing only three singles until the sixth inning. Strasburg held down Houston’s potent lineup, including in the sixth with two runners on, to pave the way for Washington’s big moment in the seventh. He’s quickly demonstrating why, if he exercises the opt-out clause in his current deal, he deserves to be one of the game’s highest-paid pitchers.
Loser: Alex Bregman
Bregman’s decision to spend Monday night sleeping with his bat paid off. He broke out of his extended slump with a majestic blast in the first inning. It now might be time for him to spend a cozy evening with his glove.
While he didn’t get charged for an error in the seventh on Howie Kendrick’s grounder, it’s an inning-ending play an All-Star third baseman must make. It allowed a run to score and opened the door for four more runs to score, including two on his throwing error. He lost Game 1 with his bat and just cost his team Game 2 with the glove. Not exactly what the Astros needed from their MVP.