In a World Series where neither team has won a home game, the Houston Astros are taking a 3-2 series lead … home.
The first pitch of Game 6 is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. (8:07 p.m. ET) at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, where the Washington Nationals took a 2-0 lead in the series last week before losing three in a row.
The Nationals never scored more than a run in any of the losing efforts and were bested 19-3 during that stretch in the nation’s capital.
Sunday’s Game 5 wasn’t much of a contest as a combination of the Astros’ big bats — three dingers — and heat from pitcher Gerrit Cole — nine strikeouts — led Houston to a 7-1 win.
None of the games has been particularly close since Game 1 in which the Nationals gave up two runs late but held on to triumph 5-4 in Houston.
If the Nats can turn it around Tuesday night and force a Game 7, it will mark the first time in Major League Baseball history that the visiting team has won the first six games of a World Series.
“We’re just trying to win each game every day,” Astros reliever Will Harris told MLB.com. “If it didn’t work out that day, focus on the next day. I don’t think there’s really a rhyme or reason why (the road team dominance) has happened.”
Tuesday’s showdown will see a Game 2 rematch with Nationals hurler Stephen Strasburg taking on Astros ace Justin Verlander. Two of the best pitchers in baseball, they each threw six innings in their first clash, which ended with the Nats trouncing the Astros 12-3, the biggest blowout of the series.
A win for Verlander would be special, not only because his team would lift their second-ever Commissioner’s Trophy, but it would also be his first pitching win in a World Series.
The 36-year-old went 21-6 in the regular season, recording more wins than any other pitcher. Yet in five World Series outings — two as an Astro, three as a Detroit Tiger — he’s never registered a win.
He’s also given up an average of almost six earned runs in each of those World Series games, compared to his lifetime earned-run average of 3.33 (and 2.58 in 34 starts this season).
Verlander will have plenty of help in the bullpen as Sunday’s beatdown allowed the Astros to leave Harris on the bench. He’ll have three days’ rest, while fellow reliever Roberto Osuna hasn’t pitched since Friday.
In four starts in the 2019 postseason, Strasburg has notched four wins. The 31-year-old right-hander will be taking the mound in only his second World Series game, the first being last week’s 12-3 blowout.
The Nationals have never won a World Series. Their first National League pennant came this season.
“We’ve got to treat (Game 6) as Game 7 right now,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told MLB.com. “There won’t be a Game 7 if we can’t get a Game 6. So, our focus is winning tomorrow and go 1-0 and go from there.”