A night after stealing Game 3 in Washington D.C., the Houston Astros dominated the Washington Nationals in Game 4 with a 8-1 win to even the World Series on Saturday.
Much like the Nationals won two on the road to open the series, including a close win in Game 1 and a blowout victory in Game 2, the Astros followed the same script.
Houston made things look easy on Saturday night. Between a stunning start in a “bullpen game” and Alex Bregman’s bat finally coming alive, the Astros buried the Nationals early and made sure the World Series makes it back home.
Here are the winners and losers from the Astros’ 8-1 win over the Nationals in Game 4 of the World Series.
Winner: José Urquidy, pitcher Houston Astros
Houston expected Game 4 to be a bullpen game. Manager A.J. Hinch had no other options. Therefore, Saturday would be the night for his bullpen to carry the team. Instead, Urquidy turned in the best start by any of Houston’s pitchers in the series.
Opportunities for a big hit with runners on were rare for Washington. Urquidy allowed a leadoff double to Yan Gomes in the third then retired the next three batters. Those chances were few and far between against Urquidy. He dominated Washington’s lineup far more than Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole or Zack Greinke did and pushed this team to another road victory.
Loser: Patrick Corbin, pitcher, Washington Nationals
It can only take a few bad moments to overshadow great work. Unfortunately for Corbin, a few mistakes proved far more costly than everything else he did in Game 4. The southpaw put the Nationals behind early with four hits and two runs allowed in the first inning.
That’s already a tough spot to be in given Houston’s 79-21 record when it scored first entering tonight. He quieted Houston’s bats for the next two innings and then wasted his great work in the fourth inning. Corbin allowed a leadoff walk to Carlos Correa then a two-run shot to Robinson Chirinos – that’s all Houston needed.
Winner: Robinson Chirinos, catcher, Houston Astros
Houston’s batterymates carried it to a pivotal win in Washington D.C. Chirinos helped Urquidy turn in the best start of his career and silenced the crowd at Nationals Park. When Washington’s fans started to get back into it, he unleashed a two-run moonshot to give Houston a four-run lead.
The Astros are now right back in the World Series with all the momentum on their side. While plenty of games are ahead, Chirinos is making a legitimate case to be World Series MVP. Houston’s move to sign him last December is proving to be one of the best moves in baseball this offseason.
Loser: Fernando Rodney, relief pitcher, Washington Nationals
Rodney took the mound in a problematic situation for Game 4. Facing two All-Star hitters with two runners on and one out is a challenge, especially for a reliever who shouldn’t be in this high-leverage spot. It felt like a nightmare waiting to happen.
Rodney made circumstances worse for himself by allowing a single to Michael Brantley to load the bases. He still could have found a way to work around it and limit the damage. Instead, he let Alex Bregman snap out of his slump to break the game open with a grand slam. While Rodney isn’t responsible for the loss, his collapse ended any hopes for Washington to make a dramatic comeback in Game 4.
Winner: Alex Bregman, third baseman, Houston Astros
It finally happened. After his bat went cold throughout the postseason, even more so in clutch moments, Bregman came alive on Saturday night. It started with a one-run single to open the scoring in the first inning. It felt like a sign that he found his swagger at the plate and he proved it in the seventh inning.
Bregman came into the night in the middle of an 0-for-12 skid with runners in scoring position, and we even saw his struggles negatively impact him at third base. Now one of the game’s best players is waking up at the perfect time and that makes the Astros even scarier.
Loser: Dave Martinez, manager, Washington Nationals
Managers take calculated risks this time of year and those decisions have consequences. The decision to use Rodney in the most critical high-leverage situation wasn’t a risk, it was an act of extreme recklessness.
Rodney is at the point in his career where he can only be trusted in low-risk spots. The 42-year-old entered with a .400/.483/.580 slash line allowed in high-leverage spots this season. The same manager who relied heavily on Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle — his two superior relievers — early this postseason sent out Rodney in a critical spot. There’s no excuse for Martinez’s call and it deserves criticism for days to come.