2019 National League Championship Series
|2019 National League Championship Series|
93 - 69 in the NL
|4 - 0
|St. Louis Cardinals|
91 - 71 in the NL
- Mike Muchlinski, Chris Conroy, Bill Miller (crew chief), Phil Cuzzi, Chad Fairchild, Fieldin Culbreth
Chris Guccione served as the video review umpire for the first two games, then switched positions with Mike Muchlinski.
|1||Washington Nationals 2 St. Louis Cardinals 0||October 11||Anibal Sanchez (1-0) Miles Mikolas (0-1)||8:08 pm|
|2||Washington Nationals 3 St. Louis Cardinals 1||October 12||Max Scherzer (1-0) Adam Wainwright (0-1)||4:08 pm|
|3||St. Louis Cardinals 1 Washington Nationals 8||October 14||Jack Flaherty (0-1) Stephen Strasburg (1-0)||7:38 pm|
|4||St. Louis Cardinals 4 Washington Nationals 7||October 15||Dakota Hudson (0-1) Patrick Corbin (1-0)||8:05 pm|
Game 1 @ Busch Stadium
|WP: Anibal Sanchez (1-0); LP: Miles Mikolas (0-1); SV: Sean Doolittle (1)|
|Home Runs: none|
- Attendance: 45,075
When talking about the Nationals' pitching, Anibal Sanchez was always the forgotten man behind the top three of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin; but he was coming off a solid season, having gone 11-8, 3.85, and he had an outstanding career behind behind him. Today, thrusted into a prominent role given manager David Martinez's use of his big three in all sorts of roles in defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series, he had a tremendous game, not giving up a hit until the 8th inning, as he led Washington to a 2-0 win in Game 1. His opponent, Miles Mikolas, also did well, with just a run allowed in 6 innings, but he ended up on the losing end.
Mikolas started strong, needing just 7 pitches to retire the first two Nationals batters, and after a single by Anthony Rendon, struck out Juan Soto as well. Then Sanchez got going, and was even better, retiring the Cardinals in order, starting a string of 10 straight outs to begin the game as he mixed four pitches, and continually kept the Cardinals' hitters off-balance. The Nationals got on the scoreboard in the 2nd as Howie Kendrick led off with a double, then after two outs, the Cardinals decided to pitch to Yan Gomes with first base open and Sanchez due up next, and it cost them dearly as Gomes also doubled. But Mikolas was generally very good, with only a single on his ledger over the next two frames. With one out in the 4th, St. Louis finally put a man on base when Kolten Wong drew a walk. After a second out, Wong stole second base and advanced to third when Gomes's throw ended up in the outfield. However, on the next pitch, Marcell Ozuna popped up in foul territory along the third base line, ending the threat. Washington threatened again in the 5th, when Gomes singled, and after Sanchez failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt, Trea Turner singled as well. After a second out, Rendon drew a walk to load the bases, but Juan Soto grounded out to second to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Sanchez got back to mowing down the Cards systemically, with a perfect 5th inning. In the 6th, the Nationals wasted another good opportunity when Ryan Zimmerman hit a one-out double, this time Gomes was issued an intentional walk with two outs, but Martinez decided to keep Sanchez in the game and he grounded into a force out. In the bottom of the inning, Randy Arozarena, batting for Mikolas, was hit by a pitch, although the Nats argued unsuccessfully that he had deliberately moved his padded elbow into its way. He then stole second base but Dexter Fowler grounded out and Arozarena was stranded on third base when Wong lined out to center field. In the 7th, Washington finally managed to add a second run with Mikolas gone. Reliever Giovanny Gallegos snagged a line drive by Turner with the tip of his glove for the first out, but Adam Eaton then dropped a ball into deep center field and when Fowler took his time to get to it, he made it all the way to third base. Manager Mike Shildt then ordered an intentional walk to Rendon and brought in Andrew Miller to face Soto. Miller struck him out, then John Brebbia came out to face Kendrick, but he allowed a single that scored Eaton. Zimmerman then walked to load the bases again, but Michael A. Taylor flew out to center to end the inning. Sanchez then came back with another hitless inning, with only a hit-by-pitch by Yadier Molina with two outs.
After the Nationals had gone down in order in the top of the 8th, Sanchez was entering potential historical territory as he still had not allowed a hit. He retired Tommy Edman thanks to a great diving catch of a line drive by 1B Zimmerman, and then Paul DeJong before facing Jose Martinez, pinch-hitting for pitcher Ryan Helsley; on a full count, he hit a single to center to break up the no-no. Dave Martinez now brought in reliever Sean Doolittle, with closer Daniel Hudson unavailable because he was on paternity leave, Sanchez having given him more than anyone expected. Dollittle got Fowler to ground out, ending the 8th with the score still at 2-0. Washington stranded a couple of runners in the top of the 9th, then Doolittle came back and Wong attempted to bunt his way on base, but the pitcher's throw barely beat him to the bag, a call that was upheld after a video review. Paul Goldschmidt then grounded out and Marcell Ozuna struck out on a full count to end the game.
Game 2 @ Busch Stadium
|WP: Max Scherzer (1-0); LP: Adam Wainwright (0-1); SV: Daniel Hudson (1)|
|Home Runs: Michael A. Taylor (1)|
- Attendance: 46,458
Game 2 was another low-scoring affair dominated by pitching, with two veterans, Max Scherzer for Washington and Adam Wainwright for St. Louis, facing off on the mound. And once again, it was the Nationals who got the superlative pitching performance, while the Cardinals had merely a very good one, which was not enough on this day. Scherzer, imitating his teammate Anibal Sanchez, took a no-hitter into the 7th inning until Paul Goldschmidt managed a single off him to lead-off the inning. It was still anybody's game at that point, as the Nationals only had a 1-0 lead, but they added a couple of insurance runs the next inning to end 3-1 winners and take a two games to none lead back to the nation's capital. Ironically, back in the 2013 ALCS, Scherzer and Sanchez, pitching for the Detroit Tigers at the time, had held the Boston Red Sox hitless through five innings in back-to-back starts; this had been the only other time the feat had been achieved in the history of postseason play - a rather mind-boggling statistic! The Sox had feasted on the Tigers' bullpen in that series, however, and had won despite the Bengals' strong starting pitching, but so far its was not the case.
As expected given the final score line, both pitchers started strong, breezing through the first two innings while each allowing just one opposite baserunner, who was stranded. In the 3rd, however, CF Michael A. Taylor, still starting in place of an ailing Victor Robles, hit Wainwright's first pitch to deep left field for a solo homer and a 1-0 lead. But that was the only scoring action through the first 6 innings, and almost the only action on the bases: Wainwright allowed a couple other singles, and Scherzer walked one batter. In the 7th, after another 1-2-3 inning by Wainwright, Goldschmidt hit his leadoff single to break Scherzer's no-hit bid, but Marcell Ozuna then struck out and Yadier Molina grounded a double play to end the inning. The final pitching line for Scherzer was 7 innings, 1 hit, no runs, 2 walks and 11 strikeouts.
In the 8th, Matt Adams pinch hit for Scherzer with one out and hit a single, then Trea Turner hit another single and Adam Eaton doubled to drive both of them in. Wainwright then issued an intentional walk to Anthony Rendon and gave way to Andrew Miller in what clearly seemed like a case of Wainwright having been asked to pitch one inning too many. In any case, Miller got Juan Soto on an infield fly and Howie Kendrick on strikes, but a 3-0 lead looked huge given how anemic the Cardinals' bats had been in the series. They did manage a small rally against Sean Doolittle as Paul DeJong singled with two outs and pinch-hitter Jose Martinez, who had broken up Sanchez's no-hit bid the night before, doubled him in. But Dexter Fowler then flied out to end the inning. The Nats were unable to pad their lead in the top of the 9th, going down in order against Ryan Helsley, then Patrick Corbin came in to face Kolten Wong and retired him on a ground ball. Daniel Hudson, back from paternity leave, now came in to close out the win. He got the final two outs on a fly out and a pop-up to do just that.
Game 3 @ Nationals Park
|WP: Stephen Strasburg (1-0); LP: Jack Flaherty (0-1)|
|Home Runs: WAS - Victor Robles (1)|
- Attendance: 43,675
The Nationals continued their utter domination of the series in Game 3 thanks to another great pitching performance, this one by Stephen Strasburg, who gave up just one run - unearned at that - in 7 innings, that run only coming after the Nats had taken a 7-0 lead and chased Jack Flaherty after just 4 innings. There was little suspense as the Nationals took an early and comfortable lead and ended up 8-1 winners, putting them within one game of a first-ever participation in the World Series.
Both pitchers started off well, with no scoring in the first two innings. The major excitement came when Marcell Ozuna led off the 2nd with a double for the Cards, only the second time in the series that they had managed to place the lead runner on base in any inning. However, the next batter, Jose Martinez, starting in RF in place of Matt Carpenter, with Tommy Edman sliding over to 3B, hit a ball back to Strasburg, who caught Ozuna in no man's land between second and third base. He just advanced towards the runner and eventually tagged him, snuffing the budding rally just like that. In the 3rd, the Nationals scored all the runs that they would need. Victor Robles, back in the line-up in CF after missing a few games with an injury, hit a lead-off single and Strasburg bunted him over to second. Flaherty then struck out Trea Turner for the second out, but Adam Eaton singled to drive in the first run. It could have ended here, as Anthony Rendon lifted a ball to the left field corner. LF Ozuna attempted a sliding catch, but the ball bounced out of his glove and was generously ruled a double. Eaton was running all the way and scored without a throw as C Yadier Molina visibly showed his disgust with the poor defensive play. This opened the flood gates as Juan Soto then drew a walk and both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Flaherty on which a flustered Molina hardly reacted. They then both scored easily when Howie Kendrick followed with a double. The score was now 4-0, and the way Strasburg was pitching, thinks looked extremely bleak for the Cardinals.
St. Louis managed to place a couple of men on base with a pair of two-out singles in the 5th, but Molina flew out to center to end the threat. In the 5th, Carpenter pinch-hit for Flaherty, ending his night after just 4 innings, but they just stranded another runner. The Nationals then padded their lead in the bottom of the 5th as Rendon singled with one out against Tyler Webb. With two outs, John Brebbia replaced Webb but he allowed another double to Kendrick and Rendon scored as Ozuna failed to pick up the ball cleanly (although the ball was hit deep enough that it was unclear the left fielder could have done anything to prevent Rendon from scoring). Ryan Zimmerman followed with another double, and it was now 6-0, pretty much an insurmountable lead. They did not let down either, as Robles then led off the bottom of the 6th with a solo homer off Brebbia. Rookie Genesis Cabrera finished that inning as St. Louis had now basically written off the game. They did score a run in the 7th when Martinez and Molina led off with back-to-back singles. With one out, Paul DeJong singled as well and Martinez scored when LF Soto's throw back to the infield was wild. The run was unearned as Strasburg then struck out the next two batters to end his night's work, after telling manager Dave Martinez pretty emphatically that he wanted to finish the inning. That gave him 12 Ks on the night against no walks, continuing the absolute dominance by Washington's starting pitchers. The Nats completed the scoring with a run off Daniel Ponce de Leon in the bottom of the 7th, on Kendrick's third double of the game and a single by Zimmerman. Ageless Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect 8th inning and rookie Tanner Rainey did the same in the 9th to end the game. Washington was one win away from a first-ever participation in the World Series.
Game 4 @ Nationals Park
|WP: Patrick Corbin (1-0); LP: Dakota Hudson (0-1); SV: Daniel Hudson (2)|
|Home Runs: STL - Yadier Molina (1)|
- Attendance: 43,976
The Nationals completed a sweep of the NLCS with a 7-4 victory in Game 4. The suspense did not last long, as the Nationals scored 7 runs in the bottom of the 1st inning, chasing rookie starting pitcher Dakota Hudson after just one out, and then nursed their lead the rest of the way to ensure their first pennant since moving to Washington, DC in 2005. For the Nationals, Patrick Corbin was on the mound and he started off throwing absolute gas, as he struck out the side in the 1st, struck out two of three batters in the 2nd, picked up two more Ks in the 3rd, and struck out the side again around a solo homer by Yadier Molina in the 4th. He started showing signs of fatigue in the 5th, when he allowed 3 runs, but completed his five-inning stint with 12 strikeouts, the fourth consecutive dominating performance by a Nats starter.
The story of the game was the bottom of the 1st, however. Trea Turner led off with a single and Adam Eaton followed with a double. Next up was Anthony Rendon who lifted a ball to deep center for a sacrifice fly and a 1-0 lead. Juan Soto then hit another double, and it was 2-0. The red hot Howie Kendrick was due up next and he was walked intentionally with first base open. The next batter, Ryan Zimmerman, hit a sharp grounder to third base; Tommy Edman fielded it cleanly and threw to Kolten Wong at second base in time to force Kendrick, but Wong dropped the throw and everyone was safe. This was a turning point in the game, as Hudson was now in deep trouble. Victor Robles singled to right when his high pop-up dropped untouched between a trio of Cards players to make it 3-0. Yan Gomes singled to left to drive in two more runs for a 5-0 lead. Mike Shildt had no choice but to remove the shaken Hudson. Veteran starter Adam Wainwright came in to pitch, but it probably would have been a better tactic to bring in a true relief pitcher, saving Wainwright for the start of an inning. Corbin was due up next, and he laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the two runners to second and third. They then both scored on Turner's second single of the inning. It was now 7-0, and both the fans and the Nationals players in the dugout began celebrating as if they had already clinched the pennant.
To be fair, the situation looked desperate for St. Louis. At least they managed to stabilize things by preventing the Nationals from adding to their lead, and managed to do so with just four relievers all pitching two innings (1 2/3 in the case of Wainwright): Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos and Andrew Miller all did their part. They got on the board in the 4th on Molina's solo homer, but really threatened in the 5th, the other key inning in the game. Harrison Bader, who was starting in place of an anemic Dexter Fowler, led off the inning with a walk against Corbin, then Wong singled to right with Bader taking third. Fowler pinch-hit for Helsley and drew another walk, and suddenly Corbin was in serious trouble. He was not missing by much, but still had difficulty finding the plate. The next batter was Edman who hit a soft grounder to second; Kendrick threw him out at first base on a close play, but a run scored. Jose Martinez, the Cards' best hitter in the series, was up next, and he doubled to center, scoring both runners and making the score 7-4. It was now a game again. Tanner Rainey was ready in the bullpen by then, but manager Dave Martinez decided to stick with his starter and he struck out Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, both for the third time of the game, with Ozuna looking particularly bad in chasing a pair of breaking balls in the dirt.
The Cardinals could have built on that strong inning, especially as they had chased Corbin earlier than Dave Martinez would have liked, but young Rainey ended whatever momentum they had started with a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th. Sean Doolittle replaced him in the 7th and did the same then got the first two outs in the 8th before Ozuna singled. Dave Martinez now brought in closer Daniel Hudson for the final four outs. He started off by hitting Molina with a pitch and walking Paul DeJong to load the bases, but pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter grounded out to second to end the threat. There was no tension in the 9th, however, as, with a three-run lead still, Hudson retired the Cardinals in order to send Washington to the first World Series appearance in franchise history - they had won a pennant once before, when the Montreal Expos had the best record in the National League during the strike-shortened 1994 season, but had been denied an appearance in the World Series that year as the postseason was cancelled. Howie Kendrick was named NLCS MVP in recognition of his timely hitting, even if the key to the win was the utter dominance by Washington's four starting pitchers.
- Chris Bumbaca: "'This is for you': Washington Nationals fans ready for more as team wins National League title", USA Today, October 16, 2019. 
- Jamal Collier: "Nats sweep Cards to clinch 1st World Series trip: Washington leans on rotation arms to reach 'a beautiful place'", mlb.com, October 16, 2019. 
- Steve Gardner: "Nationals sweep Cardinals in NLCS, reach first World Series in franchise history", USA Today, October 15, 2019. 
- Gabe Lacques: "NLCS preview: Surprise matchup pits Cardinals and Nationals with World Series trip on the line", USA Today, October 10, 2019. 
- Gabe Lacques: "Finally World Series-bound, Washington Nationals put past failures behind them", USA Today, October 15, 2019. 
- Mike Petriello: "Who has edge? Nats-Cards position by position: NLCS Game 1 is Friday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS", mlb.com, October 10, 2019. 
|Major League Baseball National League Championship Series