HOUSTON – As expected, it was quite a pitching duel in Game 2 of the World Series between the Astros Justin Verlander and the Nationals Stephen Strasburg. Both allowed a pair of runs in the first, then nothing for the next five innings.
But while Strasburg's night was done after six strong innings, Verlander was sent back out for the seventh inning. He would pitch to just two batters in the inning as it turned into a nightmare inning for the hometown nine.
Light-hitting catcher Kurt Suzuki led off the inning with a home run and before long the Suzuki was up again to end the inning. By then six runs had scored and a 2-2 game, was now in blowout territory with the Astros taking a 12-3 loss to drop into a two-games-to-none hole in the World Series.
Here's what we learned in Game 2.
The Nationals are really, really good
The Nationals have posted the best record in baseball (including the postseason), since their 19-31 start and they have put all the reasons why on display during their 10-2 roll through the postseason, which includes their current 8-game winning streak.
They won both games in Houston as their pitchers grind through the tough hitters and bear down when needed. Their hitters continued putting pressure on the Astros pitchers all night long, just as they did in Game 1. Also they've been the better defensive team.
Verlander, like Cole, not unbeatable
Wednesday's World Series Game 2 start was Verlander's sixth career start in the fall classic and he remains winless. He's 0-5 with 5.73 ERA now in those starts, after allowing four runs in six+ innings in Game 2.
Verlander is 14-5 with a 2.83 ERA in his 24 combined division series and championship series appearances.
The Astros are in a very deep hole
The last 11 teams to open the World Series with two wins have gone on to win the title. You have to go back to 1996 when the Braves won the first two games of the World Series before losing four straight to the Yankees to find a team that was unable to win the title after earning a 2-0 series lead. The tiny bit of good news here is that Yankees team lost the first two games at home, just like Houston, before storming back to win the next four games.