The odds aren’t with the Houston Astros as they head into Game 3 of the World Series against the host Washington Nationals on Friday night down 2-0 in the series. But those odds will become nearly insurmountable if the Astros fall in this one, which makes it the precise definition of a must-win.
Washington has won eight straight postseason games, and now they get up to three games at home, if the series lasts that long. The Nationals have scored 12 of their 17 runs in the first two games in just three innings, so Houston has been hanging in these contests. But the Astros must come up with clutch hitting and better pitching if they’re going to win in the first World Series home game for the Nationals.
The moneyline for this game has the Houston Astros -136 and the Washington Nationals +126. The over/under for the contest has been set at 8.
Needing A Big Outing
Of the Houston trio of ace pitchers, Zack Greinke has been the most disappointing in the postseason. But, with a big effort in Game 3, he could be the first of the three to earn a win in the World Series after Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander each took losses in the first two games. The right-hander is 0-2 in the postseason in three starts, with an ERA of 6.43. He’s allowed 10 earned runs in 14 innings pitched, giving up 15 hits, including five home runs. He did pitch against the Nationals this season while he was still with the Diamondbacks, picking up the win after going 7 1/3 innings and allowing just two hits and no runs.
Offensively, the Astros have been better than the St. Louis Cardinals were against the Nationals in the National League Championship Series, but they have the same winning percentage as St. Louis had against Washington after being swept. Jose Altuve has continued his hot postseason in this series, batting .400 with a double, but the entire Houston lineup has struggled with runners in scoring position. In the bottom of the sixth of a 2-2 game on Wednesday, Houston had men at first and second with one out and came away with nothing. The next inning came Washington’s six-run explosion that decided the contest.
Next Man Up
If it seems like Washington has nothing but aces up its sleeve in these playoffs, it’s because it nearly has. The Nationals have had solid starts from almost every pitcher that takes the mound, especially since the start of the NLCS. The man that got them off to a quick start against St. Louis with a near no-hitter, Anibal Sanchez, gets the ball for this one. The 35-year-old hasn’t pitched since Game 1 of the NLCS, when he went 7 2/3 innings and allowed just one hit. Since mid-September, Sanchez has won four straight decisions, allowing a total of six earned runs over 31 2/3 innings.
Many championship teams get collectively hot at the plate, making it difficult for the opposition to get a break. The Nationals are getting that in this postseason, with nine different players hitting at least one home run and 10 driving in more than one run. The team’s most consistent hitter has been Anthony Rendon, who is batting .325 in the playoffs, though he is just 1 of 8 against Houston, albeit a two-run double. Juan Soto is making a play for series MVP honors, batting .571 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI in the two games thus far.
Houston Shows Character
The Astros have been one of the most successful teams in baseball over the last three seasons, and part of that has to do with the heart of the team. Houston isn’t facing an easy situation, but they can circle the wagons a bit now that they’re on the road. I think Greinke is due for a big game, and as stated earlier, he’s had success against Washington this season. I’m taking Houston -136 to get its first win in the series.