The Washington Nationals demolished the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-1, in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Monday to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Washington, which has not trailed in this series, will host Game 4 Tuesday night with a chance to complete the four-game sweep over St. Louis and advance to the World Series.
The Nats went 50-31 at home during the regular season and are 3-1 at home during the playoffs. Of the 36 teams to win after going up 3-0, 29 finished the sweep in Game 4. In MLB postseason history, there has only been one team (2004 Boston Red Sox) to come back and win after falling to a 0-3 series deficit.
The Nationals scored eight runs on 11 hits. Six of the club’s eight runs came with two outs. With Stephen Strasburg on the mound, the D.C. starting pitchers kept rolling in the NLCS. Strasburg struck out 12 in seven innings of work (one unearned run) to continue a historic postseason run. Washington knocked Cards starter Jack Flaherty out of the game after four innings. St. Louis, meanwhile, has just two runs on 11 hits in the series (25 innings).
Why the Nationals won
The offense was relentless this entire game.
Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty gave up back-to-back RBI to Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon the bottom of the third inning with two outs. Howie Kendrick, NLDS Game 5 hero and in the midst of an incredible playoff run, matched an LCS record for most doubles in a game with three and finished with three RBI. He has has eight RBI in the past four games. Victor Robles went deep in the sixth for a solo home run in the sixth and Jordan Zimmerman knocked in an RBI single in the seventh to pad the lead and put this one out of hand.
It’s wasn’t just the offense on Monday that propelled the Nats to a commanding 3-0 series lead. Strasburg was unbelievable on the mound. He finished his seven-inning outing with 12 strikeouts and no walks, becoming just the third pitcher in postseason history with 12 strikeouts and zero walks in game. The other two to reach that feat? Gerrit Cole and Tom Seaver. And, a few more accolades to go with the previous stat:
The Nats have now won all four games when Strasburg has appeared in the playoffs, including a start in the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS against the Dodgers. Strasburg’s outing lowered his postseason ERA to 1.10 — third lowest in postseason history (minimum six starts) trailing only Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson.
Why the Cardinals lost
Once again, the Cards lost this one because they couldn’t get going against Strasburg. St. Louis has just 11 hits and two runs in the first three games of this series. The Cardinals were held without a hit into the eighth inning of Game 1 and into the seventh inning of Game 2. They were able to get a hit much earlier in Monday’s Game 3 (second inning), but unable to capitalize. As our own RJ Anderson pointed out before Game 3, the Cardinals needed to hit better if they wanted to get back into this series.
St. Louis needed a dominant start from Flaherty, which it didn’t receive. Flaherty, who was coming off an excellent start against the Braves in the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS, gave up four runs, all in the third inning. It’s the first time the 23-year-old right-hander gave up that many runs in a game since July 2, a span in which he made 18 appearances on the mound.
Play of the Game
The insurance home run from Robles in the sixth inning all but guaranteed the Game 3 win.
The solo blast off Cards reliever John Brebbia broke the game open and gave the Nats a 7-0 lead. Monday was Robles’ first game back since Oct. 4 after suffering a mild hamstring strain in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, and it was his first homer since Sept. 5. The homer was an extra run added onto the Nats’ rout of the Cards, as well as a nice confidence boost for the 22-year-old Robles who went 2 for 4 with two runs and one RBI.
The Nationals will look to close out the best-of-seven NLCS against the Cardinals on Tuesday. With a win, Washington will advance to the World Series. The Cardinals will send out right-hander Dakota Hudson to face left-hander Patrick Corbin. Game 4 at Nationals Park is set for Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET — stream via fuboTV (Try for free). The full postseason schedule can be found here.
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