World Series Live: Starting with Game 1, pitching could dominate the 2019 World Series.
The Houston Astros are sending Gerrit Cole to the mound for Tuesday’s opener at Minute Maid Park, with the Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer his likely foe.
Cole was in line to appear in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, but Jose Altuve ended that possibility with his two-run walk-off home run in Saturday’s Game 6.
The victory allowed the Astros two days off to reset their rotation. The Nationals earned a week off following their National League Championship Series sweep, but that may not be beneficial to them.
World Series Game 1 Information
Date: Tuesday, October 22
Start Time: 8:08 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go or FoxSports.com
Houston 3, Washington 1
Cole extended his regular-season form into the postseason by fanning 32 batters over 22.2 innings in three victories.
In his most recent start, the 20-game winner conceded four hits in seven shutout frames at Yankee Stadium. At home in the postseason, Cole sat down 25 batters on strikes and allowed nine batters to reach base through either a hit or walk.
Houston has only lost seven times in 2019 when the right-hander steps on the mound, and the most recent defeat occurred July 12 against the Texas Rangers.
Scherzer is one of the few hurlers capable of keeping with Cole’s pace, as he gave up one hit and sat down 11 batters in NLCS Game 2. In his past two postseason appearances, the 35-year-old has given up a single earned run on five hits.
Game 1 could be the first of many pitching duels, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan outlined the opening three matchups.
If that is the case, both teams can’t afford to be wasteful with runners in scoring position. In ALCS Game 6, the Astros left six runners on base, with five of those happening in the final four frames.
However, five of their six runs came off home runs by Yuli Gurriel and Altuve in the first and ninth innings. Altuve’s home run won the series and Gurriel’s long ball could affect the World Series if it brings his confidence up from an extended slump.
Gurriel went 3-of-24 versus the Yankees, and Yordan Alvarez struggled even more by earning one hit in 22 at-bats.
If Houston finds a way to unlock its bats, it could challenge Scherzer in every plate appearance and knock him out early.
Washington will try to employ the same strategy, but history is not on its side. The last two sides to earn NLCS sweeps combined for five runs in World Series Game 1 defeats. In fact, all five franchises from both leagues to earn LCS sweeps since 2000 fell in the Fall Classic opener, and only the 2014 Kansas City Royals pushed the series past five games.
Even if Cole lasts five or six innings, the Nationals may not be able to shake off rust at the plate versus Houston’s bullpen.
Will Harris and Joe Smith combined to give up one ALCS run, while Roberto Osuna let up two earned runs in five innings.
If the bullpen follows up a quality start from Cole with a few strong frames, the Astros should be able to take the early advantage.