For majority of the Washington Nationals roster it was their first taste of World Series action. For players like 20-year-old Juan Soto the lights of the World Series sent a wave of nerves down his body, “In the first at-bat, I’m not going to lie, my legs were a little shaky,” Soto admitted after the Nationals took Game 1 of the 2019 World Series with a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
To start off the series, Yuli Gurriel smothered a 1-2 fastball to right-center field for a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning against Max Scherzer to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.
However, Soto and the Nationals had other plans for the American League Pennant champions.
Mr. National, Ryan Zimmerman, was the first to take a stand against Gerrit Cole — who lost his first game since May 22 — as he resisted hesitation in his first World Series at-bat by slashing a 413-foot home run to center field to skim the Astros lead at one in the second inning.
The training wheels were off for Soto when he approached his second at-bat of the game, hammering a slider over the wall and onto the railroad tracks against Cole in the top of the fourth inning. But, the damage wasn’t complete until the Santo Domingo native smacked another slider to the left field wall, scoring two runs that extended the Nationals lead to 5-2 in the fifth inning.
Soto clamped his hands together, motioning “Baby Shark,” towards the National dugout as he stood on second base and let out an innocent smile that captivated the Nationals demeanor in Game 1 of the World Series. The RBI-double would give Soto 10 RBI in his postseason career (11 games).
Soto, at 20 years and 362 days old, became one of the youngest players to hit a home run in the World Series, following a prestige lineup of player who have hit World Series home runs at a young age: Andruw Jones (19 years, 180 days), Miguel Cabrera (20 years, 187 days), Mickey Mantle (20 years, 352 days).
“I’m not shocked that he can hit the ball that far, I mean I’ve seen it over and over,” Scherzer said regarding Soto’s offensive abilities. “He’s an incredible hitter, what he’s done this year for us for our team, he means the world for our lineup and what he can do is awesome.”
Scherzer pitched five innings, giving up two runs on five hits and seven strikeouts before trading in his glove for a windbreaker in his second World Series appearance since 2012 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
George Springer stained the barrel with a long solo home run to center field slashing the Astros deficit by two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. It would be the fifth straight World Series home run for Springer, who has found comfort on baseball’s biggest stage.
Springer entered the batter’s box in the bottom of the eighth with intentions of tying the game with a second home run, but settled for a hit against the right field wall for a RBI to creep onto the Nationals 5-4 lead.
Despite Springer’s valiant offensive efforts, the Astros offense went 3-for-12 with runners-in-scoring position. Their inability to score with runners-on-base left them in the loss column to start their second World Series since 2017.
“What can I say about it? And I’ll keep going back to those guys in the clubhouse,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said after his first World Series victory. “These guys, what they’ve gone through all year long, I’m super proud of them. And we come here to Houston, who’s got a really good team, and we play good baseball and we end up winning the game.
We’ve got to do it again tomorrow.”
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