Nats waltz to World Series, sweep Cardinals in NLCS
The Washington Nationals blitzed the St. Louis Cardinals with seven first-inning runs at Nats Park Tuesday night and held on for a 7-4 victory en route to a National League Division Series sweep and the franchise’s first-ever World Series appearance.
A Washington baseball team has not advanced to the World Series since the 1933 Washington Senators, and has not won a title since the 1924 Senators. The Montreal Expos never won a National League pennant before moving to Washington in 2005.
Washington tried to take any drama out of the proceedings early. Trea Turner led off with a single, Adam Eaton followed with a double, and Anthony Rendon’s sacrifice fly made it 1-0. Juan Soto doubled home Eaton, at which point the Cardinals made the odd choice to intentionally walk Howie Kendrick. The move backfired immediately, as Ryan Zimmerman reached on an error, Victor Robles singled home a run, and Yan Gomes singled home two more to make it 5-0 and chase starter Dakota Hudson after just 15 pitches.
Adam Wainwright came out of the ‘pen to retire Patrick Corbin on a sacrifice bunt, but Turner got his second hit of the inning to drive home two more and make it 7-0.
The Cardinals finally got their first earned run off a Nats starting pitcher in the series as Yadier Molina hit a solo shot just over the wall to the left of straightaway center field in the top of the fourth.
Patrick Corbin set the tone, striking out the side, all swinging, on three high fastballs in the top of the first. But he faltered a bit after his strong start, allowing a three runs in the fifth. He struck out 12 batters in his five innings of work, but allowed four earned runs in all, letting the Cardinals close the gap.
Tanner Rainey delivered a crisp, 1-2-3 sixth inning and Sean Doolittle retired the side in order in the seventh and got the first two outs of the eighth before a Marcell Ozuna single. Daniel Hudson came on and hit Yadier Molina, then walked Paul DeJong to load the bases and bring the go-ahead run to the plate. But Hudson got pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter to roll over to Brian Dozier at second base, who bobbled the ball before making the play to retire the side.
Hudson sent the Cardinals down in order in the ninth to finish it out.
The Nationals will await the winner of the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series to determine where they will travel for Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, Oct. 22.