Who will WIN this matchup?
@ Washington Nationals
Cole (HOU): 3-1; 1.82 ERA
Ross (WSH) 0-0; 0.00 ERA
Houston Astros: (-240)
Washington Nationals: (+210)
• Scherzer has been scratched from the start tonight due to a sore neck. Joe Ross will start instead. Confidence in Houston will be raised. The hope is Ross will be able to throw 75-80 pitches.
• American League MVP candidate Alex Bregman recorded as many errors as hits in the first three games of the World Series but made up for it in a big way in Game 4 as the Houston Astros evened the series at two wins apiece. The Astros will try to make it three straight victories and head home with a series lead when they visit the Washington Nationals for Game 5 on Sunday. Bregman gave Houston the lead in Game 4 with an RBI single in the first inning and put the game out of reach in the seventh, when he came up with the bases loaded and sent an 0-1 fastball from veteran reliever Fernando Rodney into the stands in left field for a grand slam. The Astros are bidding to become the first team to drop the first two games at home and still win the series since the 1996 New York Yankees as they managed to turn it into a best-of-three series with co-aces Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander lined up for the next two games.
• The Nationals had won eight consecutive postseason contests before dropping Game 3 and had a streak of nine straight games in which they allowed four runs or fewer come to an end on Saturday as the bullpen – the team’s Achilles’ heel – surrendered four runs on two hits and five walks in the seventh inning alone. Washington will rely on ace Max Scherzer to stop the bleeding on Sunday and could use more from an offense that produced a total of two runs in the last two games.
• Cole showed that he wasn’t invincible in Game 1, when he was reached for five runs on eight hits – two homers – and a walk while registering a postseason-low six strikeouts in seven innings. The loss was the first for the former No. 1 overall draft pick since May 22 and came after three previous playoff outings in which he allowed a total of one run in 22 2/3 frames. “I hope I go home with nothing left in the tank,” Cole told reporters. “So, whether it’s tomorrow 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.”
• Scherzer picked up the win in Game 1 after surrendering two runs and striking out seven in five innings. The former Cy Young Award winner needed 112 pitches to get through the five frames but managed to record his third consecutive postseason win, allowing a total of three runs over 19 innings in that span. “After the first game, he’s already sat down and kind of mapped out his game plan for his next game,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters of Scherzer. “So, as you know Max, he’s all in. He’s got a plan.”
• Nationals C Kurt Suzuki (hip flexor) sat out Game 4 and is day-to-day.
• Houston LF Michael Brantley has gone 8-for-17 with two RBIs and scored three runs in the series.
• Washington is 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position and has left 21 men on base over the last two games.
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