The World Series returned to Washington D.C. on Friday night for the first time since 1933. Unfortunately for the city, the Houston Astros stormed back in the series with a 4-1 win in Game 3.
The Nationals could never find their composure. Despite hosting Game 3 in front of a raucous crowd with a two-game lead in the series, Washington unraveled and missed key opportunities to drive in runs with runners on.
Meanwhile, Houston finally delivered in the crucial moments it failed in throughout the first two games. Bats came alive with some clutch hits with runners in scoring position and that made all the difference on Friday night.
Here are the winners and losers from Houston’s 4-1 win over Washington in Game 3 of the World series.
Winner: Jose Altuve, second base, Houston Astros
Altuve is the heart of the clubhouse and the most beloved athlete in Houston. He helped carry this team to the World Series and he propelled them to a crucial win in Game 3 on Friday night.
The All-Star slugger crushed a ball deep into center field in his first at-bat and would’ve had a run-scoring double if not for a phenomenal defensive play. He channeled his frustration into a leadoff double in the third inning and a one-out double in the fifth inning. Altuve came around to score in both situations and the Astros are back in this series because of him.
Loser: Juan Soto, outfielder, Washington Nationals
Soto came into Game 3 with plenty to celebrate. Washington held a 2-0 lead in the series and he turned 21 on Friday. Unfortunately, this will probably be a birthday Soto will want to forget.
Things started uncharacteristically ugly for him at the plate with a first-pitch groundout on a bad pitch he rarely swings at. It stranded Anthony Rendon at second base and carried over into the field. Soto tried to throw out Carlos Correa at home and sailed the throw over the backstop. He followed that error with a misplay in the corner that allowed Jose Altuve to reach third on his double.
We all have embarrassing memories we’d like to forget from our birthday and Game 3 was that moment for Soto.
Winner: Victor Robles, outfielder, Washington Nationals
Robles saw Kurt Suzuki deliver a clutch performance with his glove and bat in Game 2 and decided to follow suit. First, the 21-year-old displayed his range, instincts and athleticism on a stunning catch to rob Jose Altuve of an RBI double.
He then stepped to the plate in the fourth inning and came through with the biggest hit of his career. Robles lined a ball past Alex Bregman’s glove and down the left-field line. It allowed Ryan Zimmerman to score for Washington’s first run and Robles celebrated his clutch triple. Washington is set for years with Soto and Robles.
Loser: Alex Bregman, third baseman, Houston Astros
This will be a postseason that will haunt Bregman for years if Houston doesn’t make a comeback in this series. He made a great argument to be the AL MVP during the regular season, then the playoffs hit and now he seems to be suffering from the yips.
Bregman came up short with his bat in Game 1, made two disastrous errors in Game 2 and went cold at the plate on Friday night. It’s so bad for him now that Washington intentionally walked Michael Brantley to load the bases and face Bregman. He quickly grounded out to end the inning and is now 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position this postseason. It’s time for manager A.J. Hinch to move Bregman down the lineup.
Winner: Will Harris, relief pitcher, Houston Astros
The Astros went into the sixth inning feeling confident. They held a 4-1 lead and just needed pitcher Brad Peacock to retire the bottom of Washington’s batting order and they could roll from there. Instead, Peacock quickly gave Nationals Park new life by walking Victor Robles and Matt Adams to bring the game-tying run to the plate.
Houston brought in Harris to save the day. He dominated Trea Turner and won the duel with a strikeout for the second out. When umpire Sam Holbrook missed an obvious check-swing strikeout, Harris got an inning-ending groundout right after. He then returned to the mound in the seventh and retired the heart of Washington’s order. While he didn’t get credited with a save, Harris’ performance saved Houston.
Loser: Kurt Suzuki, catcher, Washington Nationals
Suzuki’s Game 3 performance represented the polar opposite of how he performed in Game 2. The veteran catcher didn’t do Aníbal Sánchez any favors with poor pitch framing. Beyond his woes behind the plate, including a throwing error that allowed Kyle Tucker to advance to third, Suzuki also struggled with the bat.
He struck out looking with two runners on in the second inning and then struck out swinging with a runner on in the fourth inning. Nothing captured Washington’s issues on Friday night better than Suzuki’s swing in performance from Game 2 to 3.