Nationals Bowl Over the Cardinals Again in the N.L.C.S.


WASHINGTON — The first League Championship Series recreation held in Washington, D.C. was a celebration for many of the 43,675 followers who attended on Monday night time. The second one could possibly be a long-awaited coronation.

The Washington Nationals, heirs to virtually a century of baseball anguish in the nation’s capital, beat the St. Louis Cardinals, Eight-1, to take a three-games-to-none benefit in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.

Stephen Strasburg continued the Nationals’ pitching dominance over the Cardinals with seven very good innings, putting out 12 and permitting just one unearned run, in the seventh. Offensively, the burden fell to Howie Kendrick, a brand new Mr. October who hit three doubles, knocked in three runs and scored twice for the Nationals, who’ve by no means trailed in the sequence. Kendrick has 9 runs batted in this postseason and is batting .314.

“He’s the greatest ever,” stated third baseman Anthony Rendon, who made a glittering defensive play and added two hits, together with an R.B.I. double. “You see the man. He’s what, 36 years old? And he’s still doing it.”

With yet one more win, the Nats will seize the first National League pennant in franchise historical past and change into the first Washington group — there have been three since 1901 — to earn a visit to the World Series since the Washington Senators of the American League did it in 1933 with gamers like Heinie Manush and Goose Goslin.

That team lost in five games to the New York Giants. The Senators had beaten the Giants in 1924 for the city’s only World Series title. That franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961, becoming the Twins, eight years before the advent of league championship series. (Another incarnation of the Senators, an expansion team, moved to Texas as the Rangers in 1972.)

“We’ve got to get a lead at some point in this series,” said Mike Shildt, the frustrated manager of the Cardinals. “Hard to win a game if you can’t get a lead.”

But that has been impossible against a starting rotation that has become almost untouchable, including Strasburg, whose combined a live fastball with an excellent changeup on Monday. When he came out of the game after striking out the final two batters in the seventh he was greeted by his teammates Gerardo Parra and Anibal Sanchez, who wrapped him in a double bear hug of joy and appreciation.

“I’m not much of a hugger,” Strasburg said, “but they just surrounded me, so I just had to take it.”

In the first two games of the N.L.C.S., starting pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer both took no-hitters into the seventh inning, and the series has been completely one-sided. Including the regular season, the Nationals have won 15 of their last 17 games.

On Monday, Strasburg gave up a hit to Marcell Ozuna in the second inning to eliminate the possibility of another no-hit bid, but it was the Nationals who did the early scoring, pushing four runners across the plate in the third inning, two of whom came home on Kendrick’s double.

Kendrick went into the game with six R.B.I. in the postseason, four of them on his grand slam in Los Angeles. This time he drilled a 2-1 sinker from Flaherty that was on the outside corner, and sent it into the gap in right-center field. The ball traveled all the way to the wall, allowing Rendon and Juan Soto to score as the fans roared.

“We were 19-31,” Kendrick said of the Nationals’ low point in May. “People were counting us out already. I feel like, from that point on, we took off.”

And they keep getting better. Ever since that eighth inning against the Dodgers in Game 5, the Nationals have played almost perfect baseball. It has put them on the brink of something their city has not seen in 86 years — the same amount of time it took the Red Sox to end their championship drought.



Source link Nytimes.com

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