The home-field disadvantage in the 2019 World Series means that after four games, both the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros have won twice, but not in the fashion that was expected.
The Nationals won twice at Houston. The Astros won twice at Washington. The Astros must be feeling confident with Game 5 at Washington on Sunday.
The Astros’ 8-1 victory in Game 4 on Saturday means that the 2019 World Series is essentially a best-of-three series now. And one team will be on the brink of a title when Game 5 is done.
The series also will return to a battle of aces, as the Nationals are set to send Max Scherzer to the mound Sunday, while the Astros will give Gerrit Cole a chance at redemption. In Game 1 on Tuesday, Cole gave up five runs on eight hits over seven innings as the Nationals earned a 5-4 victory.
Cole expects far better of himself Sunday after giving up just one earned run in his previous three starts and 22 2/3 innings in the playoffs. His teammates will back him up with newfound momentum.
“I hope I go home with nothing left in the tank,” Cole said. “So whether (Sunday) is the last time I pitch, or I get the opportunity to pitch another time after that, I just hope I’m just absolutely dog tired by the time I get home.”
In six previous starts against the Nationals before the World Series, Cole was 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA.
The Astros are not the only ones with momentum. Scherzer gave up two runs on five hits over five innings while winning Game 1. He is 3-0 in five appearances in this postseason with a 2.16 ERA and has 34 strikeouts in 25 innings.
Over his 12 seasons, Scherzer has not faced much regular-season resistance from the Astros, going 3-1 against them with a 3.38 ERA over seven appearances (six starts). But the World Series is far different, and this will be his second appearance against the Astros in five days.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s just going to be a challenge,” Scherzer said about starting against the Astros again. “I think the only advantage of this is that I don’t face the Houston Astros that much. … I still feel that I could execute better and give their hitters just a little bit different look, even though they did get to see me pitch against them and what it looks like.”
Scherzer made 16 starts this season with Kurt Suzuki catching, posting a 2.08 ERA. He made 12 starts with Yan Gomes behind the plate, delivering a 4.09 ERA. With Suzuki nursing a hip flexor injury, Scherzer likely will be paired with Gomes.
“Yan is very astute to the game of being able to watch what’s going on and how I sequence guys and what we want to do,” Scherzer said. “He’s catching (Saturday), so he’s going to be able to see whatever is going on, get his feet wet. I feel comfortable throwing to Yan, as well.”
Like he did in Game 1, Scherzer will have to derail the Astros’ offense again.
Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley each have multiple hits in three consecutive games. Robinson Chirinos has a home run in back-to-back games. Houston’s self-assured approach has returned.
“We really have confidence in (ourselves), and we didn’t give up after the two losses at home,” Altuve said on MLB Network after Game 4. “(Saturday) we were getting our pitches to hit, and if not, we were passing the baton to the other guy. We played as a team, and I like where we’re at right now.”
–Field Level Media