Wrapping up one of the more lopsided and drama-free National League Championship Series in recent history, the Nationals defeated the Cardinals by a score of 7-4 on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. to sweep their way to the franchise’s first-ever World Series appearance.
Game 4 was another mostly stress-free game in a very stress-free NLCS for the Nats, as they scored seven runs off Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright in the top of the first inning and rode a large amount of swing-and-misses on Patrick Corbin pitches to a decisive sweep-clinching victory over St. Louis.
Corbin became the first pitcher in MLB history to record 10 strikeouts through four innings of a postseason game, ultimately finishing with 12 strikeouts in five innings of work. Add that to the resume of futile showings by the Cardinals’ offense throughout the series …
They were no-hit for 7 2/3 innings by Anibal Sanchez in Game 1, a 2-0 win for the Nats.
Max Scherzer no-hit them through six innings in Game 2, en route to a 3-1 victory.
And they struck out 12 times against Stephen Strasburg in Game 3, which finished 8-1.
Yadier Molina provided the first earned run against a Nationals starter on Tuesday, a whole 25 1/3 innings into the NLCS, with a solo home run off Corbin in the top of the fourth. St. Louis then managed to tack on three more runs in the top of the fifth before Corbin punched out Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna to close out that frame and end the minor threat.
Tanner Rainey entered in the top of the sixth and worked a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout. Sean Doolittle cruised through the top of the seventh and got the first two outs in the top of the eighth before giving way to Daniel Hudson, who loaded the bases before inducing an inning-ending groundout from Matt Carpenter. Hudson then retired Kolten Wong, Matt Wieters, and Tommy Edman in order in the top of the ninth to set off the celebration in the nation’s capital.
Because the Nats took care of the Cardinals in only four games, they can line up their starters however they like for the Fall Classic, which doesn’t get underway until next Tuesday night. Scherzer and Strasburg figure to handle Games 1 and 2, with Corbin likely following in Game 3.
This team survived the National League Wild Card Game versus the Brewers, took care of the favored Dodgers in the NLDS, and just made a statement against the champions of the NL Central. Now the Astros or Yankees await, without the luxury of a full week to rest and gameplan.
Astros Best Yankees In Bronx
In earlier playoff baseball action on Tuesday, Houston grabbed a 2-1 lead in the American League Championship Series after earning a 4-1 victory in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.
Astros starter Gerrit Cole wasn’t at his best, yielding a career-high-tying five walks while failing to register a double-digit strikeout total for the first time since August 1, but he operated with gusto in situations that required damage control and prevented a dangerous Yankees offense from doing anything meaningful over his seven shutout frames. Cole has given up just one run over 22 2/3 innings so far in the 2019 postseason and boasts a 1.59 ERA over his last 25 outings dating back to late May.
Gleyber Torres provided the only spark of the night for the host Yankees with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning off Astros reliever Joe Smith. It was the third home run of the playoffs for Torres, and his second of this best-of-seven ALCS. At age 22, he is the youngest player in American League history to hit three home runs in a single postseason.
Jose Altuve got the scoring started for the visitors with a 420-foot solo drive off Luis Severino in the top of the first inning. Josh Reddick then added a 410-foot solo shot in the top of the second. Severino settled in from there, but his pitch count rose to a season high by the top of the fourth and he was pulled after recording only one out in the top of the fifth. The 25-year-old right-hander was limited to just 12 total innings during the 2019 regular season due to lat and shoulder issues, and he topped out at 83 pitches in his lone ALDS start against the Twins. Yankees manager Aaron Boone lifted him at 97 pitches on Tuesday.
Adam Ottavino was charged with the Astros’ other two runs as his postseason struggles continued in the top of the seventh inning. Zack Britton shares some blame there -- he uncorked a wild pitch and surrendered a sacrifice fly, which actually allowed those runs to score. Gary Sanchez deserves some criticism too for a poor effort in trying to block Britton’s wayward sinkers and an 0-for-4, two-strikeout showing at the plate. Sanchez is now 1-for-11 with six strikeouts in the ALCS and 2-for-21 with 10 strikeouts in October as a whole.
Game 4 on Wednesday in the Bronx is in danger of getting postponed -- The Weather Channel predicts a 100 percent chance of precipitation -- so we could see a change in pitching plans. Yankees manager Aaron Boone had been considering a bullpen game but could opt to turn back to Masahiro Tanaka in the event of a rainout. Tanaka allowed only one hit and one walk over six shutout innings in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday. Astros manager A.J. Hinch could go with Zack Greinke if Game 4 is pushed to Thursday, then trot out Justin Verlander for Game 5 and possibly start Cole on short rest in Game 6.
There should be an update on the status and start time for Game 4 by Wednesday afternoon.
Quick Hits: Howie Kendrick was named the MVP of the NLCS at age 36 … Mike Tauchman (calf) is "in play as a roster option" if the Yankees advance to the World Series, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post … Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas interviewed for the team's managerial vacancy last week, per Tim Healey of Newsday … Michael Wacha (shoulder) threw a simulated game on Tuesday afternoon at Nationals Park with free agency looming this winter.