Washington Nationals 7, St. Louis Cards 4
When: 8:05 PM ET, Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, DC
Special to Digital Sports Desk by Field Level Media
WASH DC – They were one of the worst teams in baseball two months into the season, so of course the Washington Nationals were in no mood to stay patient with a World Series appearance within their grasp.
The Nationals used a seven-run first inning to earn a 7-4 victory over the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday and finish off a four-game sweep of the National League Championship Series.
A World Series in the nation’s capital would have been tough to predict in the spring. The Nationals were an abysmal 19-31 through May 23 with talk that manager Dave Martinez could be fired. Now Martinez’s team will bring Washington its first World Series since the 1933 Senators lost the Fall Classic in five games to the New York Giants.
“What a group of guys and what a ride,” said Nationals veteran Ryan Zimmerman, who has been with the club since it moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005. “This is about as good as it gets, but we’re not done yet.”
Yan Gomes and Trea Turner drove in two runs each in the first inning as the Nationals pulled off the first playoff series sweep in franchise history. Washington will await the winner of the American League Championship Series, either the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees, opening the World Series on the road on Oct. 22.
Left-hander Patrick Corbin (1-2) gave the Nationals a fourth consecutive strong pitching performance in the series until the Cardinals got to him for three runs in the fifth inning. Corbin did allow four runs, but he struck out 12 over five innings.
Washington starters delivered a 1.35 ERA over 26 2/3 innings in the series.
Howie Kendrick was named MVP of the series by hitting .333 (5-for-15) with four doubles and four RBIs in the sweep. Kendrick went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run in the Game 4 clincher.
Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson (0-1) recorded just one out, giving up seven runs (four earned) on five hits with one walk. The Nationals not only were helped by a first-inning error by Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, but Victor Robles’ RBI single fell untouched between Wong and right fielder Jose Martinez after a miscommunication.
The Cardinals never led in the series and were outscored 20-6 in the four games. It was the first sweep in the NLCS since 2015, when the New York Mets defeated the Chicago Cubs, and just the second NLCS sweep in 12 years.
The Cardinals struck out 48 times in the four games.
“They beat us, clearly,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “Hats off to them. They played really good baseball. They pitched very, very well. Their bats heated up as the series went, and they played the game the right way.”
The Nationals’ sixth consecutive victory in the postseason came decisively.
Turner led off the first inning with a single, Adam Eaton doubled, and Anthony Rendon lofted a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. Juan Soto’s double made it 2-0, and after an intentional walk to Kendrick and a fielder’s choice from Zimmerman on which Wong dropped a sure forceout, Robles looped his RBI single to right.
Gomes and Turner delivered their two-run hits as the Nationals sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning.
“This is what we have been working for all those years, and I appreciate everybody sticking with us,” Rendon said. “We have short-term memory. We understand that it’s a 162-game season and you keep grinding to the end.”
When the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina hit a home run in the fourth, it was the first time a Nationals starter gave up an earned run in the series. Corbin still became the first pitcher in postseason history to record 10 strikeouts in the first four innings of an outing.
The Cardinals scored three times in the fifth inning, once on Tommy Edman’s groundout and twice on a Martinez double.
Nationals relievers Tanner Rainey (one inning), Sean Doolittle (1 2/3 innings) and Daniel Hudson (1 1/3 innings) closed out the win. Hudson left the bases loaded in the eighth inning en route to his second save of the series and fourth in this year’s postseason.
–Field Level Media