Washington entered the game without starters Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, or closer Daniel Hudson available for the game. It turns out, it didn’t matter. Howie Kendrick scored on a Yan Gomes double in the second inning. That would be all the scoring necessary for the Nationals to take a commanding 1-0 lead in the NLCS, as the Nationals can now turn to Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin on proper rest.
Anibal Sanchez turned back the clock and flashed 2013 form to open the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. The 35-year-old righty, now a back of the rotation pitcher for the Nationals dominated the NL Central champion Cardinals, keeping them hitless until there were two outs in the eighth. Sanchez fanned five and walked only one in leading the Nationals to victory in the opening game of the NLCS. Not only did Sanchez help Washington weather being without their top three starters, but he pitched deep enough into the game as to avoid exposing the team’s weak bullpen, which was without closer Daniel Hudson. With only four outs left to get, the Nationals were able to turn to Sean Doolittle, their other reliable reliever to close out the game.
An increase in strikeouts, colder weather, and better competition all lead to fewer home runs. Still, after a season in which the single-season total MLB home run record was not only broke, it was crushed into oblivion as if it had been caught in the grip of a cosmic singularity, the lack of home runs here in October, some on a few rather notable hard-hit outs, has some fans wondering if the league has been getting shifty with the baseballs.
Timing is everything. No one is going to remember how dominant Kershaw has been on numerous occasions in the postseason. What everyone is going to remember are some ill-timed home runs and a particular chain of singles against a prolific Astros team.