Houston Astros, MLB Postseason

Why Astros fans shouldn’t panic after Game 1 loss

The Houston Astros dropped Game 1 of the 2019 World Series at home 5-4 to the Washington Nationals, but there’s no reason to panic. Here’s why.

So you didn’t take care of business at home in Game 1 of the World Series, Houston Astros. Big whoop. You guys battled back after a rough top-half of the fifth inning to make this one come down to the final pitch. Unfortunately, you let the Washington Nationals win their first-ever World Series game, 5-4, on your turf. However, there is no reason to panic and here’s why.

Simply put, you have the better team. So what if Gerrit Cole had a rough fifth inning? You got seven innings out of him in a game where Nationals ace Max Scherzer only went five. While you couldn’t get any runs off him in his last four innings on the mound, you guys did put two across in the bottom of the first. You had 10 hits in the ball game. You’ll be all right offensively. We trust you.

While it was only two innings’ worth of work for the bullpen, only Will Harris and Joe Smith were used, an inning apiece. Washington used four pitchers in relief of Scherzer and outside of Sean Doolittle, it wasn’t as smooth sailing for Patrick Corbin, Tanner Rainey and certainly not Daniel Hudson. The Nationals won the game, but they had four stressful innings put on their bullpen.

Even though the bullpen isn’t what’s going to win the World Series for you anyway, it’s nice to know that the relief pitching isn’t up against it, as Cole went seven in a game where he didn’t have his best stuff. Look for him to be better the next time he toes the rubber in Game 4 or Game 5.

So you had a decent offensive showing and a solid pitching night, but not a great enough of a team performance to take Game 1. We know you can play better, but so much more went right for Washington than we probably expected. Eventually, they will hit adversity and that’s where you’ll crush them.

See, you’ve been here before. You won the World Series two years ago over the Los Angeles Dodgers. While the Nationals may not be the choke artists of the Clayton Kershaw Dodgers, this is still untrodden territory for the nation’s capital’s professional baseball team, and that matters so much.

Who is to say that Game 2 starter Stephen Strasburg is ready for the brightest lights baseball can offer? Guess who he’ll be going up against tomorrow night? Future National Baseball Hall-of-Famer Justin Verlander. This will be Verlander’s fourth trip to the Fall Classic. After losing it twice as a member of the Detroit Tigers, Verlander knows how to get it done in October now.

Look for Verlander to take back control of this series for the Astros, as he pitches deep into the night for Houston on Wednesday. Perhaps we’ll get an offensive explosion out of two of the team’s better position players in second baseman Jose Altuve and third baseman Alex Bregman? They went a combined 1-9 at the plate with four strikeouts. Don’t think that’ll happen again.

And should the Astros find themselves in an 0-2 hole in the series if Verlander should falter on Wednesday night, Game 3 will feature Zack Greinke on the mound for Houston. He’s about as good of a No. 3 starter you could ever hope for. He’s hungry for a World Series ring and Washington has yet to announce who will be toeing the rubber opposite him on Friday night in D.C.

Overall, the better team lost on Tuesday night because of one bad half-inning. These things happen. This series wasn’t going to be a sweep or a gentleman’s sweep. We all knew this one was going to end up going six or seven games. While the pitching staff might need to do a better job of keeping Juan Soto in check, remember, you’ve been here before and Washington has not. Relax.

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