Having seen their offense stymied for a total of four hits in the first two games of the NL Championship Series, the Cardinals need to get something going offensively. The problem is they need to do it against Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, who has a 0.80 WHIP, 21 strikeouts and one walk in 15 innings this postseason. Can the Cards break through and make this a series?
What’s on tap
7:38 p.m. ET: Cardinals at Nationals, Game 3
The most important thing of the day: Only one team has come back from being down 0-3 in a best-of-seven series: the 2004 Red Sox in the ALCS against the Yankees en route to their curse-busting World Series win. Basically, it’s territory the Cardinals want to avoid.
The view from inside the ballpark
WASHINGTON D.C. — Teams that win the first two of a best-of-seven series on the road have advanced 22 of the past 25 times. That’s what the Cardinals face with the next three games (if necessary) at Nationals Park. St. Louis has been held to four hits in the 18 innings of this NLCS. But the Cardinals will have their ace, Jack Flaherty, on the mound in Game 3, and they’re comfortable with their offensive approach. “As long as we keep putting good at-bats together and keep going out there and working toward our game plan, we’ll be all right,” Flaherty said on Sunday’s conference call. — Alden Gonzalez
A stat to impress your friends: The Cardinals need to save their season in Game 3, and who better to turn to than Flaherty, the second-half star of their rotation? Flaherty is the owner of both the lowest ERA (0.91) and the lowest wOBA allowed (.189) in MLB since the All-Star break.
With the way Flaherty and Strasburg are pitching, you have to expect another low-scoring game. I’m a little worried about Flaherty’s workload down the stretch and Mike Shildt’s tendency so far in the postseason to leave his starters in a little too long. Nationals 3, Cardinals 2 — David Schoenfield
I’ve picked the Cardinals twice in a row, and it has not turned out well for St. Louis, so this might be a good thing for Cards fans. But the bottom line right now is the Redbirds’ hitters haven’t given us much reason to believe in them, and that’s unlikely to change against Stephen Strasburg in Game 3. Nationals 2, Cardinals 0 — Dan Mullen
About last night
Stud of the night: Of course, it’s Carlos Correa, who hit the walk-off home run that evened the series for the Astros. Correa also had an RBI double in the second inning to bring in Houston’s first run, and he threw out DJ LeMahieu at the plate on a heads-up play that saved a run in the sixth.
Dud of the night: Yankees starter James Paxton, who allowed only one run but gave up four hits and two walks, forcing the hand of manager Aaron Boone. By pulling Paxton in the third inning, Boone needed to go to his bullpen hard, which worked fine until the game went to extra innings and Boone had already used his preferred high-leverage arms.
Highlight of the night:
The Astros take Game 2 of the ALCS as Carlos Correa smashes a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Off the diamond
Social media says:
Carlos Correa becomes the 2nd player in MLB postseason history with multiple walk-off hits against the same opponent.
The other? David Ortiz, who did it in consecutive games against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. pic.twitter.com/ogriWy8goG
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 14, 2019
Quote of note: “There was no losing this game. We were winning this game. Everybody in that clubhouse believes in each other and we’re looking forward to going up there.” — Astros third baseman Alex Bregman during postgame interview on FS1
Best of the playoffs so far …
Our running postseason MVP: There are a lot of ways to break down the dominance of Astros starter Gerrit Cole so far: a 0.57 ERA and 0.57 WHIP, 25 strikeouts, three walks and six hits allowed in 15⅔ innings, including eight stifling innings in Game 5 against the Rays. Then there’s this: Cole joins Mike Mussina in the 1997 ALCS as the only pitchers with at least 25 strikeouts and one or fewer runs allowed in a series in postseason history.
The play of this October: We’re going to cheat and make this “plays”: the back-to-back home runs by the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto off the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Kershaw in the wake of Soto’s tying bomb could end up as the lasting image of these playoffs.
Game of the postseason so far: Nationals-Dodgers, Game 5 of the NLDS. The Dodgers’ ambushing Stephen Strasburg, Strasburg settling down and keeping the Nats in it, Walker Buehler‘s mastery, Kershaw’s big strikeout before his eighth-inning implosion, Howie Kendrick‘s 10th-inning slam, questions for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. There’s a lot to unpack here, and this was a true postseason classic.