Aníbal Sánchez carries Nationals to 2-0 win over Cardinals in NLCS Game 1

Ashley Varela
NBC Sports

The Nationals have seen all varieties of wins and losses through their first seven games of the 2019 postseason. There have been shutouts, like their 6-0 defeat in Game 1 of the NLDS, blowouts, like their 10-4 loss in Game 3, and nail-biters, like the stunning 4-3 win that allowed them to squeeze past the Brewers in the Wild Card playoff. On Friday, they marked their postseason campaign with an even more satisfying win, grabbing the series lead with a 2-0 victory over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

This time, the charge was led by veteran right-hander Aníbal Sánchez, who marked his second start of October with 7 2/3 no-hit innings against St. Louis. Sánchez was nearly untouchable, wielding a pitch count of 103 and allowing just three baserunners on a walk and two HBP before giving up his first base hit on an eighth-inning single to José Martínez. Even after that moment — one that was swiftly followed by Sánchez’s removal from the mound — the Cardinals couldn’t catch a break, and Dexter Fowler grounded out to end both the inning and any last-minute rally the club might have mounted.

Behind the combined efforts of Sánchez and closer Sean Doolittle, the Nationals became the first team to allow just one hit in a postseason game since the Tigers nearly no-hit the Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2013 ALCS. The offense propped up the pitchers’ efforts with a pair of runs to get the team across the finish line, too: Howie Kendrick and Yan Gomes orchestrated the first run of the NLCS with a pair of doubles in the second inning, and Kendrick’s RBI single gave the Nationals a little bit of a cushion to work with in the seventh.

With the win, the Nationals take a 1-0 lead in the series, with at least three games still left to play. Game 2 of the NLCS is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, when right-handers Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright are scheduled to go toe-to-toe at 4:08 PM EDT.

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