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How the Nationals pieced together their Game 1 win over the Astros

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Max Scherzer threw 112 pitches in five innings. The only inning he threw fewer than 20 was his final one. Tanner Rainey came out of the bullpen, served up a home run and walked two batters while recording only one out. Daniel Hudson got four outs but gave up three hits and a run.

But the Washington Nationals did not lose Game 1 of the World Series. They beat the Houston Astros 5-4 on Tuesday night. The Nationals managed to cobble together 27 outs, they beat the invincible Gerrit Cole and they now are undefeated all time in the World Series.

Can Washington win three more games this way? Probably not. The Nationals need their starters to go deeper into the game. Heck, they are carrying only 11 pitchers, including two who haven’t even pitched in the postseason and another who has recorded only one out. The Astros left 11 runners on base, went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and missed a tying home run by a foot or two.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“This is just a team win,” Scherzer said. “When you look at this, there is not one guy that won this game. It was a collection of everybody. Up and down the lineup, in the bullpen, what can you say? The reason we won tonight was because of everybody in this clubhouse.”

Here’s what kind of a sweat it was for Scherzer. Only once before in his career had he pitched five or fewer innings and thrown more than 112 pitches — a start against the New York Yankees in April 2012 when he walked seven batters in 4⅔ innings and threw 119 pitches.

“It was crazy,” he said. “Everything’s on the line. That lineup is great. They absolutely grinded me, never let me get in rhythm. I was having to make pitches out of the stretch from the first inning on. For me, I just stayed with Zuk [catcher Kurt Suzuki]. Zuk called some big-time pitches for me tonight.”4

Scherzer walked George Springer on seven pitches leading off the Houston first, leaving a 3-2 slider up in the zone. The Astros would score two runs in the inning to grab a quick lead. Scherzer would go to a 3-2 count on nine of the 23 batters he faced. This was not typical, efficient Max Scherzer — not the pitcher who mowed through the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series with one hit in seven innings.

Scherzer’s mounting pitch count — 48 through two innings, 96 through four — meant Dave Martinez had to alter the script that managers attempt to plot out before the game. It meant using Patrick Corbin — his probable Game 3 starter — in the sixth inning. Then Rainey, the hard-throwing but erratic right-hander, in the seventh, with his two reliable relievers, Hudson and Sean Doolittle, after that.

“Max … kudos to him. He gave us everything he had today,” Martinez said. “Those guys are good, and they don’t chase. They’re good hitters, so he gave us everything we had; and as the game was rolling along and I started watching Max’s pitch count, there was going to be an inning that we needed to use Corbin.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Corbin did his job, striking out two in a 21-pitch inning. Martinez could have — should have? — brought Corbin back for the seventh. Win this game and worry about Games 3 and 4 later. Instead, he gave the seventh to Rainey, who possesses a 100 mph heater but doesn’t always know where it’s going. He walked 38 batters in 48⅓ innings in the regular season but also struck out 74. He had won his manager’s trust with two scoreless outings against the Cardinals. Such is the life of the hot hand in October.

Springer greeted Rainey with a monster 428-foot home run to left-center, turning on a 99 mph heater. Rainey struck out Jose Altuve but walked Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman. Hudson would get out of the inning, striking out Yordan Alvarez on three 96 mph fastballs with the bases loaded — maybe the biggest out of the game. Hudson gave up a run in the eighth on Springer’s RBI double off the wall that just missed tying the score. Doolittle got the final out of that inning and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

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