World Series Game 2: Nationals dominate Astros to take 2-0 lead

The Washington Nationals came into the World Series as the biggest underdogs since 2007.

Two games in, they’ve let the world know that no one should bet against them.

After besting Gerrit Cole in the opener, Washington took control of the series with an impressive 12-3 victory against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros in Game 2.

Now the Nationals will head home with a 2-0 series lead and a real chance to clinch the franchise’s first World Series championship at Nationals Park over the weekend.

Winning a championship always requires contributions from expected sources. In Game 2, it was catcher Kurt Suzuki who authored the biggest moment for Washington. His seventh-inning solo home run against Justin Verlander put the Nationals ahead and helped fuel a six-run rally that included a clutch two-out, two-run single from Asdrubal Cabrera and some sloppy play by Houston’s defense. Alex Bregman mishandled two grounders that allowed the inning to continue.

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Houston Astros relief pitcher Roberto Osuna celebrates their teams win against the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the baseball World Series Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Houston Astros relief pitcher Roberto Osuna celebrates their teams win against the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the baseball World Series Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Houston Astros' Kyle Tucker steals second as Washington Nationals' Asdrubal Cabrera can't handle the throw during the sixth inning of Game 3 of the baseball World Series Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Washington. Tucker advanced to third. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Houston Astros' Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick celebrate after Game 3 of the baseball World Series against the Washington Nationals Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Oct 25, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) and catcher Robinson Chirinos (28) celebrate after beating the Washington Nationals in game three of the 2019 World Series at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Astros' Roberto Osuna and Robinson Chirinos celebrate after Game 3 of the baseball World Series against the Washington Nationals Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: Members of the Washington Nationals celebrate after the Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 5-4 in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Washington Nationals' Juan Soto, Washington Nationals 2 and Victor Robles celebrate after Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 5-4 to take a 1-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by first base coach Don Kelly #15 after hitting an RBI double in the eighth inning during Game 1 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Washington Nationals' Sean Doolittle celebrates after Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 5-4 to take a 1-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Washington Nationals right fielder Adam Eaton (2) attempts to catch a ball at the wall that falls for a double by Houston Astros right fielder George Springer (4) in the eighth inning during Game 1 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Washington Nationals right fielder Adam Eaton can't get a glove on a RBI-double by Houston Astros' George Springer during the eighth inning of Game 1 of the baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) touches home plate after a fourth inning home run to tie the game during Game 1 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) connects with a fourth inning home run during Game 1 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: The Washington Nationals celebrate their 5-4 win over the Houston Astros in Game One of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
The Washington Nationals celebrate after Game 2 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 12-3 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws a pitch in the third inning during Game 2 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros fields a ground ball but makes a throwing error in the seventh inning during Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 23: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros reacts against the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Josh Reddick #22 of the Houston Astros is forced out at second base by Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 23: Juan Soto #22, Michael A. Taylor #3 and Gerardo Parra #88 of the Washington Nationals celebrate their 12-3 win over the Houston Astros in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Washington Nationals is greeted by teammates Brian Dozier #9 and Adam Eaton #2 in the dugout after scoring on a two-run RBI single hit by Ryan Zimmerman #11 during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
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Once the wheels came off, there was no coming back for Houston. In fact, Washington continued pouring it on, scoring four more runs in the eighth and ninth innings on home runs by Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor.

Prior to the seventh inning, Washington’s bats had been quiet since scoring two runs against Verlander on Anthony Rendon’s first-inning double. The sluggish start continued a concerning trend for Verlander. He’s now allowed nine first-inning runs over his five postseason starts, while allowing just four runs over his other 25 1/3 October innings.

The Astros quickly countered Washington’s run thanks to Alex Bregman’s two-run home run in the bottom half against Stephen Strasburg. Bregman had been critical of his 0-for-4 performance in Game 1, but bounced back for one at-bat at least after trying an unusual slump-busting method.

Unfortunately for Houston, Bregman’s struggles resumed immediately after. And then the rest of the team followed.

Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki celebrates his go-ahead home run Game 2 of the World Series. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE

• Kurt Suzuki: The veteran catcher entered Game 2 with one hit in his previous 23 postseason at-bats. He had two on Wednesday. In addition to his go-ahead home run, Suzuki also singled. His defense was also a factor as he potentially saved a run by throwing out Jose Altuve stealing third base in the first inning.

• Stephen Strasburg: It was a grind for Max Scherzer to get through five innings in Game 1. It was a grind for Strasburg to complete six innings in Game 2. The veteran right-hander needed 114 pitches to record 18 outs, but kept his team in the game by stranding five runners over his six innings.

• Asdrubal Cabrera: Another struggling hitter came to life for Washington. Cabrera had been 2-for-13 in October before breaking out with two hits and three RBIs in Game 2.

MUST-SEE MOMENT

This was not Justin Verlander’s best moment on a baseball field. But we admire the effort.

WHAT THEY'LL BE TALKING ABOUT

Who can stop these Nationals?: The Nationals have now defeated Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in the World Series after defeating and demoralizing Clayton Kershaw in the NLDS and sweeping the Cardinals impressive pitching staff in the NLCS. If those pitchers can’t slow the Nationals down, who can?

How do the Astros recover?: The Astros aren’t just in an 0-2 hole, they’re in an 0-2 hole while playing perhaps their worst baseball of the season. Can they get it figured out in time?

Do jersey colors really matter?: We’d like to say no. Then again, the Nationals are now 9-0 this postseason while wearing their navy blue jerseys.

WHAT'S NEXT

The series shifts to Washington D.C. for the first World Series home game in Nationals history.

The Nationals will call on Anibal Sanchez as their starting pitcher after Patrick Corbin was used in relief in Game 1. Sanchez is coming off a near no-hitter against St. Louis in NLCS Game 1 back on Oct. 11.

The Astros will send veteran Zack Greinke to the hill for his World Series debut. Greinke's had a tough go in three starts this postseason, allowing 10 earned runs in 14 innings. He could give Houston an edge though because he's a very good hitting pitcher.

Game 3 will take place on Friday night at 8:07 p.m. ET.

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