The Washington Nationals have been here before. Three times, in fact.
Heck, they were just two innings from losing the NL wild-card game against the Milwaukee Brewers and not even playing baseball a couple of days before Halloween. Twice the Nats had to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS when a loss would have sent them home too.
Now that they’re down 3-2 to the Houston Astros before World Series Game 6, the backs-against-the-wall thing isn’t new to them. They just need to defy the odds again.
“Pretty much everybody eliminated us from the season in May. So we've kind of been playing like every game was an elimination game since then,” says catcher Kurt Suzuki. “You've just got to go out and play. You can't worry about what's at stake and this and that. We've been in this spot before earlier this postseason. And we've just got to go out there and play baseball, man. We can't control the future. We just control what's at present right now, and that's going out there and competing.”
Nats manager Davey Martinez has actually been in this exact spot before. When he was a coach with the Chicago Cubs, they went back to Cleveland down 3-2 in the 2016 World Series and had to win both games on the road. They did, of course.
He’s not pulling too much inspiration from the experience, though. He’s sticking to his mantra for all of October, which has been that the Nats need to go 1-0 every day.
“We have Stephen Strasburg on the mound, who has been unbelievable for us this year,” Martinez said. “The guys feel good. We were talking [Sunday] night after the press conference, and they're all upbeat. This is way far from over. But like I said, they're going to rest, get ready to play [Tuesday], and win [Tuesday].”
Game 6 lineups
Nationals lineup for Game 6. Still no Kurt Suzuki.
Trea Turner SS
Adam Eaton RF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Juan Soto LF
Howie Kendrick DH
Asdrúbal Cabrera 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Victor Robles CF
Yan Gomes C
Stephen Strasburg P
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) October 29, 2019
What to watch for: Justin Verlander’s World Series legacy
For everything that Astros ace Justin Verlander has accomplished in his storied career, he’s never won a World Series game. He was shelled in Game 1 of this series and owns a new 5.73 ERA in six career World Series starts. That’s more than two runs higher than his overall postseason ERA, which is 3.35.
Game 6 offers him a chance to reverse that narrative and change his World Series legacy, as our Gerard Gilberto wrote about in more detail for Yahoo Sports.
Game 6 pageantry
• The Astros are bringing out Houston sports icons of the past for this one. Houston Rockets icon Hakeem Olajuwon will throw the first pitch Tuesday to fellow Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler.
• Drexler will also yell “Play Ball!”
• Country singer Clay Walker, a regular at Astros games, will sing the national anthem.
Quote of the Day
“What I've learned over the last few years of winning is that when something doesn't go your way, there's an immediate overreaction to like, ‘What's going on? What's wrong with your team?’ And my message is always that, no, we're the same team. We're the same talent. We have the same vibe.” — Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
Where to Watch
Game 6 starts at 8:07 p.m. ET from Minute Maid Park in Houston. TV coverage is on Fox.
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