The Astros entered Game 3 of the World Series with an 0-2 record and unbelievably bad odds of pulling off a championship title. According to MLB.com’s David Adler, their comeback chances hovered around 25.7% for a series win, with a 7.8% chance of getting it done in six games and a 17.9% chance in seven. The club’s playoff hopes boiled down to a single-game performance from Zack Greinke, who had followed up his All-Star campaign with several rough outings in the ALDS and ALCS.
Luckily for the Astros, Greinke entered Friday’s game with some of the best stuff the club has seen from him this postseason. He pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run, three-walk, six-strikeout ball, holding the Nationals to a single run and paving the path to a 4-1 win — the Astros’ first of the World Series.
Behind Greinke, the Astros’ offense consistently found opportunities to get around Aníbal Sánchez. The Nats’ right-hander took his second loss of the postseason and first since Game 3 of the NLDS, allowing 10 hits, four runs, a walk, and striking out just four of 27 batters in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a double to Carlos Correa in the second inning, who was then driven in by Josh Reddick on a line drive to left field. In the third, José Altuve led off the inning with another double, then crossed home plate on a Michael Brantley RBI single after the ball deflected off of Sánchez.
The Nationals finally caught a break in the bottom of the fourth. With one out and Ryan Zimmerman on first, Victor Robles roped a triple off of Greinke, plating Zimmerman and getting the team on the board. It was the first and last run they’d manage off of the Astros; after Greinke departed in the fifth, Houston rotated through an inexhaustible combination of Josh James, Brad Peacock, Will Harris, Joe Smith, and Roberto Osuna to stifle any rally the Nationals might have tried to engineer.
The Astros weren’t quite done yet, however: Altuve and Brantley went back-to-back again to drive in a third run in the fifth inning. In the sixth, Robinson Chirinos hit a home run off of Sánchez, lifting a first-pitch sinker out to the left-field foul pole and padding the Astros’ lead, 4-1.
The Nationals will attempt to get the series back on track on Saturday night, when they’ll send southpaw Patrick Corbin out to the mound for his first start since Game 4 of the NLCS. The Astros — who still face some pretty unfavorable odds — have yet to name a starter; given how many relievers they trotted out in Game 3, it’s unclear who they’ll rely on for another crucial game.
Game 4 is set for Saturday evening at 8:08 PM EDT.