The theme of Saturday night’s Game 4 was deja vu. Once again, Houston put up four runs fairly early in the game and Washington was struggling to get a hit with runners in scoring position. And then the Astros broke it open in the seventh inning to change the narrative. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers of Saturday night’s game.
Continuing with the deja vu theme of this game, Bregman once again came up to bat against Fernando Rodney. In Friday night’s game, Rodney intentionally walked Michael Brantley to load the bases and get to Bregman, and it worked, Bregman hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
In Saturday’s 50-minute seventh inning, with Rodney once again pitching with loaded bases, Bregman at the plate, things worked out a little bit differently. Bregman hit a grand slam that broke the game open for the Astros. But it wasn’t the only damage he caused, having knocked in the first run of the game in the first on a line drive single that scored Jose Altuve. Bregman went 3-for-5 on the night with five RBI, reminding everyone why he’s an MVP candidate.
Jose Urquidy changed what was supposed to be a bullpen game into a quality start and did something that none of the starting pitchers have been able to do in this series: get a win. Uquidy pitched five innings, allowing just two hits, no runs and no walks while striking out four.
Urquidy pitched in just nine games (seven starts) for the Astros during the regular season, with a 3.95 ERA and 1.098 WHIP and had been used exclusively out of the pen in the postseason thus far, which was what his role was supposed to be in Game 4. Instead, he had probably the most impressive pitching performance of this series thus far.
There was a long stretch of this game that felt like a replay of Friday night’s Game 2, including yet another two-run home run from Robinson Chirinos in the fourth inning to give the Astros a 4-0 lead.
To be clear, though he gave up the grand slam that blew open the game (after he walked two and gave up a single to load the bases), I don’t entirely blame this on Rodney himself. He has been effective in the last two games, but I don’t know that it was the best idea for him to be pitching in this game. And certainly he should have been pulled after walking two in a row.
It’s unclear why Dave Martinez went to Rodney again, and left him in for so long, when the Nationals were still within striking distance. For someone who has been so creative with his bullpen decisions in important situations, including using Saturday’s starting pitcher Patrick Corbin in relief in Game 1, it was kind of a head-scratcher to see Rodney still in the game even after the grand slam.
Juan Soto and Gerardo Parra get a pass here, for knocking in/scoring the only run of the night. But collectively the team got four hits, which is not great. They even got five free bases on walks, but stranded nine.
The Washington Fans
I feel like I need to clarify the spirit with which this list is intended. It’s not intended to call anyone a loser as an ad hominem attack, it just means they had the worst luck of the night. And on Saturday night, though they were in high spirits, Washington fans probably had the worst luck of the night. But they stuck it out, a lot of them remaining to the bitter end of a blowout, in the rain, to keep cheering for their team.
No team has won a game at home yet, and if that holds true for the series, Houston could be headed home with a 3-2 lead, but it could make for a really epic Game 7 win for the Nationals. Though that is incredibly unlikely.
But ideally, the Nationals will want to win tomorrow’s game before heading back to Houston. To do so, they’re going to have to hope they can get to Gerrit Cole again, or more realistically have Sunday’s game be the true pitching duel everyone expected in Game 1 with Max Scherzer to keep it low-scoring. For as much momentum as they had coming into their home stretch, Washington certainly has their backs against the wall at this point.