Home confinement re-watch: 2019 World Series Game 3

Has there ever been more excitement and anticipation for a Nationals game than there was on the evening of Oct. 25, 2019, when the World Series came to D.C. for the first time since 1933?

This was an event some weren't entirely sure would ever take place. Then throw in the not-insignificant fact the Nats went into Game 3 up two games to none on the supposedly superior Astros, and you had the perfect convergence of joy, intensity, nostalgia and celebration on South Capitol Street.

The whole town was buzzing all day, and the ballpark itself had a completely new vibe in the hours and minutes leading up to first pitch. Baseball had been back in Washington for 15 seasons, but this was the night when it felt like this town and this team truly arrived. The energy in the concourses and the stands as the players began to take the field was unrivaled. It maybe even brought a few people to tears.

And then the game began. And all that anticipation and excitement dissipated into the cool late October air.

The 2019 World Series will be remembered as an all-timer because of the way it concluded. The middle three games of the series, the only games to take place here, will disappear from our memory banks. Maybe you'll remember a few scenes or a few key moments in the games, but most of the details really weren't consequential in the end. And the results - three losses by a combined score of 19-3 - were pretty depressing for the Nationals.

But we have committed to re-watching the entire postseason run, not just the wins. And so for the next three days we're sucking it up and watching the full broadcasts of Games 3, 4 and 5. (Well, maybe not the "full" broadcasts, as we'll explain in a moment.)

The anticipation and excitement entering Game 3 came through the TV screen quite well as FOX came on the air. The crowd was fired up for this once-in-a-lifetime event. And everyone wanted to talk about Juan Soto, the bright new star of the postseason (to the national audience, at least) who was celebrating his 21st birthday.

After beating Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander at Minute Maid Park, Soto and company hoped to put together another impressive and relentless offensive performance against Astros starter Zack Greinke. And after nearly no-hitting the Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, Aníbal Sánchez was hoping to keep the good times rolling against an admittedly more fearsome Houston lineup.

That dazzling pitching show in St. Louis, though, happened 14 days earlier, and Sánchez had not pitched since. As noted on the broadcast, that was the second-longest gap between postseason starts in history, topped only by Miguel "Don't Call Me Miss Iowa" Batista in 2001 for the Diamondbacks.

Sanchez-Delivers-Blue-WS-G3-Sidebar.jpgWould Sánchez show signs of rust? Yes. He would give up four runs and 10 hits in only 5 1/3 innings. Then again, who knows what that final pitching line would've looked like had plate umpire and crew chief Gary Cederstrom called any of a number of Sánchez's pitches at the knees the strikes they appeared to be.

Sánchez lives down in the zone. If he doesn't get those calls, he has very little chance of success, because hitters will do serious damage against anything he throws at the belt or higher. And that's exactly what happened in Game 3.

The Astros put pressure on Sánchez throughout, scoring in the top of the second on three hits and an airmailed throw by Soto that was supposed to be to the plate but hit the backstop on the fly. Soto had trouble on another ball in the top of the third, his bobble on Jose Altuve's double into the corner allowing the Houston star to advance to third base and then score on Michael Brantley's chopper off Sánchez's glove to make it 2-0.

The Nationals did put plenty of pressure on Greinke. In fact, they pressured the veteran right-hander every single inning, putting at least one runner in scoring position in each of the game's first six frames. But they simply could not convert those golden opportunities, with one exception: In the bottom of the fourth, Ryan Zimmerman walked and then scored on Victor Robles' triple down the left field line.

The overflow crowd roared with delight at the Nats' first run of the night, but that's the only run everyone would get to applaud during the entire game. Oh, the fans tried their best to urge the boys on, rising to their feet every time the home team put a runner on base. But it just never happened.

The Nationals went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in the first six innings alone. Oh-for-10!

Some of the outs came at the end of quality at-bats from Zimmerman, Robles and Adam Eaton. Some came in surprisingly quick and poorly executed form from Soto and Anthony Rendon (they combined to make outs with runners on base on the first pitch of four separate at-bats).

In spite of all that, this game was in reach most of the way. It was 2-1 heading to the fifth, but then the Astros tacked on two insurance runs via Brantley's RBI single and Robinson Chirinos' homer off the left field foul pole.

A 4-1 deficit shouldn't have felt daunting, not to this Nationals team that made its mark all season (and especially in the postseason) coming back to win games just like this. But not on this night.

And now, confession time. After a mind-numbingly slow sixth inning that included the full Fernando Rodney Experience (he loaded the bases but somehow escaped) and then another squandered scoring opportunity for the Nats, I turned the game off. More than three hours had already passed to complete those six innings, the rest of the game would've taken another hour to watch and a scan of the play-by-play and my tweets from that night confirmed that nothing of consequence happened in the seventh, eighth or ninth.

Suffice it to say, this was a tough re-watch. That such a historic night so many waited so long to experience would slog along like that was especially unfortunate.

The knowledge that two more comparable ballgames were still to come the next two nights only made it more unfortunate.

But I suppose there's another way to look at this: If not for the frustration of Games 3, 4 and 5 in D.C., the Nationals never would've had the opportunity to make the most important kind of history in Games 6 and 7 in Houston.

The middle portion of the World Series may have been tough to watch live and even tougher to re-watch 5 1/2 months later. But when you already know how this story ultimately ends, it gets a little easier.

Home confinement re-watch: 2019 World Series Game ...
Chef José Andrés will distribute free meals from...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/