Astros And Nationals Primed To Start 2019 World Series In Houston

Oct 22, 2019
Originally published on October 23, 2019 1:35 pm

The World Series will begin Tuesday night, as the Houston Astros host the Washington Nationals. The first pitch will be thrown at 8:08 p.m. ET, in a series between clubs that can each boast of having three aces.

The Astros clinched the American League championship by beating the New York Yankees on Saturday to win their second pennant in the past three years. Now they're hoping to win their second World Series and cement themselves as one of the best teams of the decade.

For the Nationals, the matchup is historic, marking the first time the team has reached the World Series. The last time Washington, D.C., sent a team to the World Series was in 1933, when the Washington Senators lost in five games to the New York Giants.

The Nationals swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, giving them six days of rest compared with Houston's two. Houston is entering the series as heavy favorites, after winning a league-best 107 games this season.

Both teams bring elite starting pitching to this series. Fronting the Houston rotation is Gerrit Cole, who is 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA this postseason. Washington will counter in Game 1 with ace Max Scherzer, who is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the postseason. And when the Astros tap starters Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, the Nationals will answer with Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin or Aníbal Sánchez.

The Nationals made their climb to the Fall Classic after starting the season with a horrible 19-31 record, beset by injuries and a shaky bullpen. In February, the Nationals lost star outfielder Bryce Harper after he agreed to a record-breaking 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

But the team powered through, with third baseman Anthony Rendon bringing in a major league best 126 runs in the regular season, and 20-year-old emerging star Juan Soto helping to energize the club.

The Astros have their own powerhouse lineup, led by 29-year-old José Altuve, whose home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 6 of the American League championship catapulted Houston over the Yankees. At 5 feet, 6 inches, Altuve is one of the shortest players in the majors, but he's also one of the most fearsome. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the AL championship.

Houston also proved it can make stellar plays under pressure in the AL series, as outfielders Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley shut down the Yankees' comeback attempt with dramatic catches.

The first two games in the best-of-seven series will be played in Houston. The series then heads to Washington for the weekend. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, would be played in Texas next week.

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