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MLB Roundup 10/16: The Nationals are going to the World Series

And the Astros take a lead in the ALCS

MLB: NLCS-St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals are heading to the World Series

The Nationals had to sneak into the playoffs via the Wild Card Game despite a massive second half thanks to a terrible start to their season and a great regular season from the Braves. That hasn’t slowed them down one bit, though. After winning a classic Wild Card Game, then sneaking past the Dodgers in the NLDS, they have officially wiped the floor with the Cardinals. St. Louis just looked totally overmatched this entire series, and that extended all the way into the fourth and final game of the sweep. The top of the first lasted an entire five minutes with Patrick Corbin rolling through the top of the Cardinals’ order. The bottom of the first then saw the Nationals send eleven men to the plate and score seven runs. That was more than enough for them to win, as the Cardinals did threaten a bit against Corbin in the fifth but they were still down three by the time the inning was over. By the end, it was a 7-4, pennant-clinching win for the Nationals.

Sox Spin: The Nationals, by virtue of getting the sweep, have a much better chance of beating the AL winner in the World Series than they would otherwise. Whoever comes out of the AL will almost surely be the favorite, but Washington can now set their stellar rotation in a way the other team won’t if that series continues to look so evenly matched. Speaking of the rotation, Washington is a good reminder that spending on starting pitching is not always a bad thing. Max Scherzer has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball throughout his tenure, Corbin is only one year into his but the Nationals certainly don’t regret that one, and they hope Stephen Strasburg opts in to keep his deal going. Just remember that, when the all-too-common talking point comes about long-term contracts never working out, it’s human nature to only remember that bad ones. The Nationals are a testament to some, even on the pitching side, being worth it.

Astros take series lead in New York

Even despite losing the first game of the series, the Astros had to feel relatively good about their position in the ALCS heading into New York. They had just tied the series in an all-time classic of a game, and now they had Gerrit Cole on the mound. That man is allergic to losing. The Yankees, however, weren’t exactly overmatched by the Astros ace. They were aggressive early on pitches in the zone while still managing to make him throw strikes — a tough line to walk. As a result, they got nine baserunners against him in seven innings, which just doesn’t happen against Cole right now. Unfortunately for New York, none of the nine runners scored. Cole settled down when the bases started filling up and the Yankees just couldn’t get the big hit they needed. On the other side, the Astros got a solo homer in each of the first two innings against Luis Severino and then grabbed two more in the top of the seventh. A 4-0 lead certainly isn’t insurmountable, but it felt like it here. As it turns out, it was as the Astros won 4-1 and took a 2-1 series lead.

Sox Spin: Not much to say here except the Yankees lost, and that is a very good thing. The Astros will look to keep their momentum going, but rain is likely to cause a cancellation of Game Four on Wednesday.