by Stuart Kirsch
The 2019 World Series opened in Houston as a battle of behemoths. The homestanding Astros collected 107 wins in the regular season and feature a fearsome lineup and the co-favorites for the AL Cy Young award. The visiting Washington Nationals took a more circuitous road to the postseason; a poor start to the season before a strong summer and fall forced them into a Wild Card slot, a comeback win, then dispatching the favored Dodgers and Braves.
The Nationals are the third Wild Card team to make the World Series since the second Wild Card and the play-in game was added in 2012. While not quite the proverbial Cinderella of NCAA hoops tourney fame, the Nats still managed to squeeze into the glass slipper and stomped all over Minute Maid Park in Games One and Two. Juan Soto, Washington’s 20-year old phenom, touched Houston for a solo blast and a two-run double. 35-year old Ryan Zimmerman also blasted a solo shot. All five runs in Washington’s 5-4 victory were surrendered by Gerrit Cole, one of the aforementioned Cy Young co-favorites.
Cole had not lost since May before his game one loss. Max Scherzer was himself shaky for the Nats, giving up a two in the first inning and lasting only five. But the Washington bullpen managed to hang on to the victory, even as the Astros made it closer with some late inning heroics from George Springer.
Game Two Recap and World Series Game Three Odds and Preview
Things did not get any better for the Astro’s Game Two ace, Justin Verlander. The matchup with Stephen Strasburg saw both hurlers touched for two early runs. A pitchers’ duel held for five innings, until the Nationals’ lineup started smashing balls around the park. A six-run seventh chased Verlander, and the Nats continued to pound Astros late pitching for a 12-3 final. Hits and RBI littered the box score for the Nationals, with home runs from Kurt Suzuki, Adam Eaton, and Michael Taylor. Strasburg pitched six strong, matching seven hits with seven strikeouts.
As the games move from the Lone Star state to the nation’s capital, the betting line for the 2019 World Series has also shifted. The Nationals are now the favorites to take home the trophy at -270, while the Astros World Series odds have climbed to +220. A four-game sweep is going off at +320, with a five-game series at +290, six games at +300, and a seven-game series at +200. History favors the Nationals as do the betting lines. 22 of 25 teams that took a 2-0 lead on the road in the fall classic have won the series; the 1996 Yankees were the last to come back from a 0-2 hole. The Nationals have now won eight straight postseason games.
The Nationals return home with Patrick Corbin toeing the rubber for Game Three. He will be opposed by Zack Greinke, a mid-season acquisition for Houston who has not been sharp in the postseason. Greinke lost to both the Rays and the Yankees and has given up 10 earned runs with five walks and 16 strikeouts over 14 innings in three games. Corbin himself started the postseason in shaky form, but has pitched better of late; winning Game Four of the Cardinals series and tossing a scoreless relief inning in Game One of the Fall Classic. Big bats on both sides have shown some signs of life in the first two contests and Game Three could be an offensive show with the two recently shaky pitchers on the bump. Then things get murky, as the Astros are likely to go with a bullpen game for Game Four as they could possibly be trying to stave off elimination while the Nationals plan on turning to Anibal Sanchez.
Best Sportsbook 2019
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