If you thought the 2019 World Series was over, think again.
The Houston Astros proved as much Friday night with a decisive 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals in the nation's capital that reduced the Nats' advantage to 2-1 and squarely reinserted Houston into the possible Champagne-and-confetti mix.
The 'Stros didn't merely seal a Game 3 win. They served notice that this Fall Classic has at least a few twists and turns remaining.
"I think it takes one day to stop the bleeding," infielder Alex Bregman told reporters prior to Game 3. "You play good one game, the bleeding stops. Panic stops. You start playing the way you want to play."
This is how the Astros want to play. It's how they expect to play. Frankly, given their pedigree and talent level, it's how they should play.
They went 107-55 in the regular season. They survived a five-game division series challenge from the upstart Tampa Bay Rays and swatted aside the powerful New York Yankees in six games in the American League Championship Series.
Now, they face the scalding Nationals, who grabbed the National League's top wild-card position and are riding their red-hot October sprint for all it's worth.
With co-aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and young slugger Juan Soto anchoring the offense, the Nationals have an undeniable team-of-destiny vibe.
"They did everything better than us," Astros slugger and possible AL MVP George Springer admitted to reporters after he and his cohorts lost Game 2.
But don't forget: The Astros have won two of the last three AL pennants and hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy in 2017.
They're standard-bearers for the modern model of building a winner through stats and metric-based acumen. Bet against them at your peril.
Yes, the Nationals won the first two games of this World Series on the road. They vanquished top-shelf arms Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. They appeared, for all intents and purposes, nearly invincible.
On Friday, however, Houston proved Goliath wasn't done yet.
Some of the Astros' bolts came courtesy of trade-deadline acquisition Zack Greinke, who largely befuddled the Nats in 4.2 innings of one-run, six strikeout ball:
Overall, though, the Astros simply played excellent baseball, as they did for much of the season. They got timely hits. They enjoyed solid pitching, from their starter and their bullpen.
There's a reason they paced MLB with an .848 OPS and finished third in baseball with a 3.66 ERA.
They're pretty dang good, to state the painfully obvious.
On Saturday, they'll face Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin and likely counter with a bullpen arsenal in the hopes they can toss out Cole and Verlander later in the series.
"A week ago, we lost Game 1 to the Yankees, and they were going to sweep us," Astros skipper A.J. Hinch told reporters before Game 3. "We have to bounce back in this ballpark similar to how we did at Yankee Stadium and put pressure back on the Nats to have to try to close it out."
The Nats might put this thing away. But their chances of a sweep are now zero.
And if you thought MLB's October tussle was over, think again.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
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