The Washington Nationals are in control of the National League Championship Series after defeating the St Louis Cardinals 3-1 in Game 2.
Washington will return to the American capital with a 2-0 lead thanks to Saturday's victory in St Louis.
Max Scherzer did not give up a hit until the seventh inning, while Adam Eaton plated two with a double in the top of the eighth to all but put the game away.
Now, the Nationals send another ace to the mound in Stephen Strasburg – who is coming off two great starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.
The Cardinals will counter with their ace Jack Flaherty in the MLB playoffs.
Three takeaways from the Nationals' Game 2 NLCS win over the Cardinals
Where has all the hitting gone?
The Cardinals have forgotten how to hit. There is no nicer way to put it. It took St Louis 7.6 innings in Game 1 to get a hit and they had just one in nine innings. Then in Game 2 on Saturday, they took six innings to register their first hit once again. But the failures do not stop there. Even in St Louis' 13-1 win against the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS, the Cardinals had their struggles. They failed to tally a single hit over the final five innings of that game.
Now, the question here is, should we have seen this coming? That is a hard declaration to make. However, St Louis were 23rd in MLB in hits and batting average this season and 19th in runs scored. Hitting was not the team's strong suit, so they were bound to have some struggles against a Nationals team that were eighth in baseball in hits allowed and seventh in opponents' on-base percentage.
But one thing the Cardinals can hang their hat on is they are not alone in not being able to hit Scherzer in Anibal Sanchez. While going five innings over the first two games of a postseason series is bad, the Boston Red Sox did the same thing in the 2013 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. What is amazing about that though is it was the same two pitchers in Scherzer and Sanchez. You cannot make this stuff up.
The postseason isn't always about the stars
Bucky Dent, Geoff Blum, Steve Pearce and David Eckstein. Absolutely none of these men are household names but every single one of them had an impact on postseason series, and sometimes World Series as Pearce and Eckstein were named MVPs of the Fall Classic.
Michael A. Taylor was supposed to be the Nationals' next big thing a little more than five years ago, but injuries and poor performance got him passed up by Victor Robles. But with Robles' injury in the NLDS this year, Taylor was thrust into a starting role and boy did he make use of it in Game 2. Taylor smacked a home run off Adam Wainwright in the third inning to open up the scoring and give the Nationals some early confidence on the road.
He went two for four in the game. And yes, he made a defensive mistake in the bottom of the eighth, but it ultimately did not hurt the team too bad.
Taylor also was a mini hero at the end of the NLDS when he made a wonderful diving catch to end the series. Taylor might not be getting paid $200million when he possibly becomes a free agent after the 2020 season, but this performance could earn him a decent payday when he gets his chance.
Turn back the clock
To say Adam Wainwright's performance this postseason has been a revelation is far from hyperbole. After tossing 7.6 innings of shut-out ball in Game 3 of the NLDS, he turned around and worked into the eighth inning again in Game 2 of the NLCS on Saturday.
This is the guy who was throwing 83 mph when coming back from a rash of injuries over the last few years. He is the guy who pitched 28 innings in 2015, 40.3 innings in 2018 and 123.3 innings in 2017. He is 38 years old. And while he was OK this year breaking the 170-inning mark and posting an ERA of 4.19, it is pretty fair to ask where this came from.
But we are not complaining. This was a reminder of the guy who struck out Carlos Beltran to send the Cardinals to the World Series and the man who was on the mound when St Louis beat the Tigers to clinch a championship. This has been fun to watch and we are here to thank Mr. Wainwright because we enjoyed every minute.