The Astros pulled back from the brink of elimination Friday night with a 4-1 win over the Nationals in Washington after losing the first two at home. Down 0-2 in the World Series, the Astros understood that Game 3 was an absolute must win if they had any hopes of reviving their chances in the series. Coming back from an 0-2 hole after losing both home games is nearly impossible; a third loss would have virtually ended the series.
With timely hitting and outstanding pitching, the Astros battled and held down a Nationals lineup that tagged them with double digit runs in Game 2. This guarantees at least a Game 5 on Sunday — both it and Saturday's Game 4 back in the nation's capital. Here are three takeaways from Game 3.
RISP in reverse.
The Astros have struggled mightily with runners in scoring position this postseason. On Friday, it was the Nationals who could not manage to get a run across the dish. They went 0-10 with RISP, the worst average in the World Series since 2008. They left 12 on base and just could not seem to get the big hit when they needed it despite plenty of runners on base, particularly against the Astros starter.
On the other side, the Astros got just enough timely hitting to give them a lead their bullpen protected. They haven't exactly leapt from their hole in this category, but they found a way to win, something they hadn't been able to do in the prior two games.
Despite nearly constant traffic on the bases, Greinke battled through four-and-two-thirds innings allowing only one run on seven hits while walking three and striking out six. He was far from perfect, but Grienke didn't give in to Nationals hitters and didn't allow them to square up on pitches.
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For whatever struggles he may have had, Greinke clearly understood the importance of his role on the mound in this game, bearing down in critical situations and getting key outs when needed. It was a gutsy performance by the newest Astro pitcher.
Astros bullpen shuts it down.
On the other hand, the Astros bullpen was nearly flawless as they have been for much of the postseason. They clearly did not appreciate the Nationals going off on them in Game 2, coming back with four-and-a-third innings of two-hit baseball. Only Brad Peacock, who walked two straight batters before being pulled for Will Harris, had any real trouble. Harris, who went one-and-a-third, was dominant with no hits and two strikeouts. Joe Smith and Roberto Osuna closed out the eighth and ninth allowing two hits with three strikeouts.
It was another outstanding outing for the bullpen on a night when they really needed it.