Up 2-0 on the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series after near no-hitters from Aníbal Sánchez and Max Scherzer, the Nationals turn to historically strong playoff pitcher Stephen Strasburg in Game 3 Monday with the chance to take a stranglehold.
Washington starting pitchers are averaging more than 6 1/3 innings in the Division Series and League Championship series, a startling reliance on Strasburg, Scherzer, Sánchez and projected Game 4 starter Patrick Corbin. That has lessened the load of a bullpen that had the next-to-highest ERA in the major leagues behind Baltimore during the regular season.
Strasburg takes a 1.32 career postseason ERA to the mound for the first Championship Series game in the nation’s capital. The big right-hander, making the organization’s much-criticized 2012 Strasburg Shutdown look better over time, is 2-0 in the playoffs this fall.
St. Louis batters swung and missed at 11 pitches in the opener and 21 in Game 2. The Cardinals look perplexed at the plate not long after putting up 10 runs in the first inning of their Division Series clincher against Atlanta. St. Louis totaled one run and four hits — just one for extra bases— in the first two games against Washington and is batting .070.
Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead on the road in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win 88% of the time in MLB history. The first step toward bucking those odds for St. Louis is sending 23-year-old ace Jack Flaherty to the mound in Game 3, and there’s no shortage of belief in what he can do in what should be a raucous atmosphere.
>>Corea's HR Lifts 'Stros Past Yankees
Carlos Correa hit a leadoff home run in the 11th inning that lifted the Houston Astros over the New York Yankees 3-2 Sunday night, tying the AL Championship Series at one game apiece.
Correa, who earlier lined an RBI double and made a sensational play at shortstop, connected for an opposite-field shot to right off J.A. Happ.
Aaron Judge put the Yankees on top 2-1 with a two-run shot off Verlander in the fourth. It was his first homer this postseason and the eighth in his playoff career.
George Springer tied it in the fifth with his franchise-record 12th career postseason home run. The 2017 World Series MVP homered on the first pitch after reliever Adam Ottavino entered.
Game 3 is Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Gerrit Cole, who is 18-0 in his last 24 starts and led the majors in strikeouts, starts for the Astros against Luis Severino.