Astros’ Cole Holding Off Nationals: Game 5 Live Updates


In the top half of the inning, Sean Doolittle pitched around a single and a walk for a scoreless frame. A double play certainly helped.

The bottom half of the frame reinforced two truths: Juan Soto and Cole are very good at baseball.

Cole threw his trademark high-90s fastball up in the strike zone and Anthony Rendon couldn’t resist, flying out to left field. (Yordan Alvarez, by the way, is out of the game, replaced by better defenders given the Astros’ lead.)

But when Cole threw a 99-mile-per-hour fastball down the middle to Soto, the young slugger didn’t miss it. He sent it over the left-center field fence to trim the Nationals’ deficit to 4-1. Soto has now homered off Cole — to the opposite field, no less — this postseason. He joined Joey Gallo as the only batters to hit multiple home runs off Cole this year.

The Nationals Park booed again in the seventh inning, this time at the home plate umpire Lance Barksdale when he rung up Victor Robles on a called third strike that was outside the strike zone. Barksdale heard more boos as the teams traded places on the field in the next frame.

Ross’s night is done at 78 pitches and five innings. Tanner Rainey relieved him and threw a 1-2-3 innings with fastballs as hard as 100 miles per hour. It was his third and best appearance of the World Series.

Yuli Gurriel has played phenomenal defense at third base this series. He robbed Trea Turner of a hit down the first base line with a nifty stop of a grounder and dive toward the bag. That is the second time he has done that to Turner this series. It helped Cole get through the sixth inning without any issue.

Ross hasn’t pitched all that poorly. The Astros’ lineup is simply that good, and they clobbered his mistakes. After walking George Springer for the second time this game, he got Jose Altuve to ground into his second double play of the game.

Cole, on the other hand, needed six pitches against the bottom of the Nationals’ batting order. He is at 69 pitches for the night.

The Astros silenced Nationals Park momentarily when Carlos Correa, who had been quiet at the plate this series, blistered a ball to left field for a two-run homer. Ross coughed up a single to Yordan Alvarez and then jumped ahead 0-2 on Correa. But Correa battled, taking a close slider for a ball and fouled off two pitches. It was stellar plate discipline from Correa, who crushed a 2-2 slider over the meat of the plate.

In the bottom half of the inning, Cole pitched around Anthony Rendon, who walked, for a scoreless frame. The curveball on the outer edge of the plate that froze Adam Eaton for a called third strike should be featured in a baseball instructional video.

Jose Altuve is now 9 for 22 (.409) this postseason. His nine hits are the most of any player in this World Series. He was the only base runner of the third inning.

In the bottom half of the inning, Cole tossed a 1-2-3 frame. He is through three scoreless innings on 42 pitches.

Once the inning ended, President Trump was shown on the scoreboard. Flanked by staff in a suite behind home plate, Trump smiled and clapped. But there was a resounding round of boos from the crowd at Nationals Park. A distinct chant of “Lock him up!” broke out in the upper deck.

Starting Yordan Alvarez, the Astros’ usual designated hitter, in as a left fielder proved to be a key decision by Manager A.J. Hinch. Since the series shifted to Washington, both teams lost the designated hitter. Alvarez, who struggled in the A.LC.S. but looked better at the plate this round, is known for his bat, not his nimbleness in the field.

After using Alvarez as a pinch hitter the previous two games in Washington, Hinch kept him in to face Ross on Sunday. Alvarez clobbered an opposite-field two-run homer to give the Astros a 2-0 lead. Ross threw a low sinker to the low outside corner, but Alvarez powered the ball into the left-center field seats.

Hinch said he had targeted this game for Alvarez “because Gerrit would get so many strikeouts, there’s less balls in play and less opportunity for something crazy to happen in the outfield.” Additionally, Hinch said, “I didn’t want to go three games without having his bat in the lineup for multiple at-bats.”

In the bottom half of the inning, Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick singled off Cole. But Cole used his usual magic to strike out Ryan Zimmerman and get Victor Robles to ground into a double play.

Given a tough assignment — filling in for three-time Cy Young Award winner Scherzer in the World Series — Ross fired a powerhouse first inning. He accomplished something that Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Scherzer struggled to do in the World Series: a scoreless first inning. Ross tossed 14 pitches. He walked George Springer, the leadoff hitter, but used his power sinking fastball in the mid 90s to get a inning-ending ground ball double play from Michael Brantley.

Cole was no slouch himself. He threw 17 pitches to get three outs. He hit 99 miles per hour with his fastball and threw a slider at 92. Good luck hitters.

NATIONALS

1. Trea Turner SS

2. Adam Eaton RF

3. Anthony Rendon 3B

4. Juan Soto LF

5. Howie Kendrick 2B

6. Ryan Zimmerman 1B

7. Victor Robles CF

8. Yan Gomes C

9. Joe Ross P

ASTROS

Opting for offense over defense, the Astros started Yordan Alvarez, their usual designated hiter, in left field.

1. George Springer CF

2. Jose Altuve 2B

3. Michael Brantley RF

4. Alex Bregman 3B

5. Yuli Gurriel 1B

6. Yordan Alvarez LF

7. Carlos Correa SS

8. Martín Maldonado C

9. Gerrit Cole RHP



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