The Houston Astros are back.
After a two-game hiccup to begin the World Series, the Astros made it two straight wins after crushing the Washington Nationals 8-1 in Game 4. The series is now tied 2-2 heading into a pivotal Game 5 on Sunday night at Nationals Park.
There were heroes all over the diamond for Houston. Some that we expected to be carrying the team four games deep into the World Series. Others that unexpectedly stepped up under the October spotlight.
The latter describes rookie starting pitcher Jose Urquidy. The 24-year-old right-hander was called upon to make his first postseason start in Game 4. He was expected to be no more than a one or two-inning opener, but instead posted Houston’s best outing in this World Series by pitching five scoreless innings. In doing so, he joined elite company.
According to @EliasSports Only one pitcher in the LCS era (since 1969) has had his first career postseason start be a scoreless one in the World Series. Jon Lester did it at Coors Field in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series - a series-clinching game for the Red Sox.— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) October 27, 2019
It was Urquidy who set the tone, but it was AL MVP candidate Alex Bregman who closed the door on Game 4.
Houston’s third baseman slugged the second postseason grand slam in Astros history, joining Lance Berkman from 2005. The slam extended Houston’s lead to 8-1 and put them in position to turn the series completely around with another win on Sunday.
The Astros had three multi-run innings in Game 4 after having just two through the first three games. They got off to a fast start, scoring two first-inning runs on run-scoring singles from Bregman and Yuli Gurriel. In the fourth, Robinson Chirinos made up for an inning-ending double play by launching a two-run homer — his second homer of the series.
It’s taken help from role players, but this is the Astros team we expected to see in the World Series. That’s bad news for Washington.
WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE
• Jose Urquidy: Only the Astros know what they truly hoped to get from Urquidy. But it’s safe to assume he surpassed even their highest expectations. Urquidy was flat filthy, limiting the Nationals to two hits while striking out four and walking none. Just as important, Urquidy limited the number of outs A.J. Hinch needed from his bullpen.
• Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman: In Game 3, Brantley fueled the Astros offense with a pair of run-scoring hits. In Game 4, he helped set the table by racking up three more hits. He was along for the ride on Bregman’s slam and is now hitting .500 (8 for 16) in the series. As for Bregman, he’s up to seven RBIs in the World Series.
• Robinson Chirinos: With all the talent playing in this World Series, who would have guessed Chirinos would be the first to hit two home runs? In fact, the 35-year-old catcher made it back-to-back games with a dinger. That doesn’t happen often in the World Series.
Robinson Chirinos is the 6th player to homer in back-to-back World Series games as catcher.— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 27, 2019
1982 Ted Simmons
1972 Gene Tenace
1955 Roy Campanella
1939 Bill Dickey
1930 Mickey Cochrane
None did so in MORE THAN 2 straight.
The Astros provided plenty of must-see moments. We could show nearly every slider thrown by Jose Urquidy. We could show you Alex Bregman’s grand slam. We could even show you Will Harris’ huge strikeout of Howie Kendrick to end Washington’s biggest threat in the sixth inning. But we won’t, because this moment belongs to Yuli Gurriel.
Yuli Gurriel!! What an effort!— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 27, 2019
Not often you see two dives on one play. pic.twitter.com/qrNVGLmPmO
WHAT THEY'LL BE TALKING ABOUT
Can the Nationals rebound?: After having their eight-game postseason winning streak snapped in Game 3, we wondered how the Nationals would respond. Now that we’ve seen the response, it might be fair to wonder if they’ve let the series slip away completely. Yeah, they’re still even. And yes, they’ve already defeated Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander once. But the Astros as a whole looked off their game in Houston. It’s a different story now.
The World Series continues Sunday night. First pitch for Game 5 is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on Fox.
All eyes will be on the pitching matchup as Washington's Max Scherzer takes on Houston's Gerrit Cole in a rematch from Game 1. Scherzer got the edge that time, tossing five innings of two-run ball in the Nationals’ 5-4 win. Cole went deeper in the game by throwing seven innings, but allowed five runs to suffer his first loss in 25 starts.
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