WASHINGTON – The World Series finally showed up back in Washington, 86 years later — and, sparked by Jose Altuve, the Houston Astros finally showed up in this World Series.
Altuve doubled twice and scored both times, Zack Greinke repeatedly worked out of trouble, and the Astros showed they were not going to go quietly despite looking listless while falling into a big hole at home, beating the Nationals 4-1 on Friday night to reduce their deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven Fall Classic.
“We’re pretty good, too,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “It kind of re-establishes us.”
Houston has a chance to pull even in Game 4 on Saturday at Nationals Park. Washington will start $140 million lefty Patrick Corbin, while Hinch said he will go with rookie Jose Urquidy.
Washington’s eight-game winning streak, tied for the longest in a single postseason, ended with a sloppy performance in the first Series game hosted by the nation’s capital since the Senators lost to the New York Giants in 1933.
A sellout crowd of 43,867, dressed mostly in red, soaked it all in.
But the wild-card Nationals were unable to move one victory from clinching, undone by an inability to come through in the clutch: They were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, leaving 12 runners on base.
“We took balls I thought we should hit, uncharacteristic of what we’ve been doing,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said.
How big was this victory for Houston? No team ever has come back to win after dropping the first three games of a World Series.
Maybe that’s why several Astros players gathered for a private meeting after their 12-3 setback in Game 2 on Wednesday. Whatever was said apparently worked.
After playing what might have been their worst baseball of 2019, the Astros suddenly played more like the team that led the majors with 107 regular-season victories.
Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young winner, only lasted 42/3 innings, and allowed seven hits and three walks, but managed to give up a mere one run. He was followed by five relievers who combined to give up two hits across 41/3 scoreless innings.
Josh Reddick delivered an RBI single in the second, Robinson Chirinos homered in the sixth and Houston scored four runs in 51/3 innings off Anibal Sanchez. The 35-year-old righty got so upset by a couple of ball calls he asked plate umpire Gary Cederstrom, “Where was that one?”
The Nationals made two errors and at least three other misplays on what were ruled hits.
• A day after President Donald Trump said he plans to attend Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday, the Nationals announced the ceremonial first pitch at that game will be thrown by chef Jose Andres, who has been a vocal critic of Trump.
Andres, a prominent local restaurant owner and humanitarian, has repeatedly opposed Trump’s immigration policies and his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. He also has tangled with Trump in court.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Trump planned to “arrive at Game 5 sometime after the game began, so that wouldn’t interfere with fans getting into the stadium. Quite frankly, we were very grateful for that.”
• Cleveland pitcher Carlos Carrasco was presented with the 2019 Roberto Clemente Award before Game 3. The award is given annually by Major League Baseball to recognize a player’s high character, community involvement and positive contributions.
Carrasco, 32, was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia in May. Despite being sick and sidelined for months during this season, he visited children fighting cancer at hospitals while receiving medical treatment for his own illness.
• The Boston Red Sox have hired Tampa Bay Rays executive Chaim Bloom, 36, as their new chief baseball officer, according to multiple media reports.
Bloom will replace Dave Dombrowski, who was let go less than a year after the team he helped build won the World Series.