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“MOJO” For Nationals Heading To Game 3

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Juan Soto #22, Gerardo Parra #88, and Michael A. Taylor #3 of the Washington Nationals celebrate after defeating the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

New York: Percentages are all in favor for the Washington Nationals to get their first World Series championship with this 2-0 advantage after their 12-3 win Wednesday night in Houston. The series now moves to Nationals Park Friday night.

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 23: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the seventh inning during Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

But don’t rule out the Astros to make this a series despite the MOJO that has continued for the Nationals. And the Astros’ lineup, similar to the Yankees plight in the ALCS, has not produced which has contributed to their deficit.

The Astros do not resemble the team of 114 combined regular and postseason wins. Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, the two American League CY Young Award favorites, did not live up to expectations.

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 23: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches during Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

So in terms of numbers, a team with a 2-0 series edge has gone on to win the World Series 71 times in 84 attempts. When speaking of why the Nationals have looked dominant, and what happened to the Astros, it’s evident.

Momentum for the Nationals, or that term MOJO. They have been the dominant team in baseball since mid May and are returning home with a record eight-game postseason winning streak.

The Nationals have forgot how to lose. That’s a good thing for them and the Houston Astros got them at the wrong time as some say the Yankees may have been a more formidable opponent if their bats had not been quiet in the ALCS.

“Clearly the Nats have outplayed us, bottom line,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said as they departed to D.C. with their backs against the wall. “They came into our building and played two really good games.”

Again, momentum is so important in October. But very few teams have been able to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the World Series and that includes the 1986 champion New York Mets who found a way against the Boston Red Sox.

What makes this Nationals run so impressive is the way they put it all together, coming out of the National League as a wild card team. That says a lot, as the last team to win it all after clinching the Wild Card dates back to the 2014 San Francisco Giants — who eliminated the Nationals in the NLCS.

Victor Robles has emerged with good at bats against Cole and Verlander. Wednesday night again Robles was a threat. He drew the walk against Verlander and that chased the potential Cy Young Award winner.

We have seen the 22-year old Robles, Santo Domingo Este, Dominican Republic, emerge as that rising star in baseball during the postseason.

So has emerged 20-year-old Juan Soto of Santo Domingo. Yes, the Nationals have that MOJO. They have become the baseball story of 2019 with that chance to emerge as the first franchise in D.C. to become World Series champions.

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 23: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals doubles in the third inning during Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Said a rival and longtime scout, “It has all come together for the Nats at the right time. They use analytics, great scouting reports, and they have the youngsters and mix of veterans.”

But this series is far from over and the Astros, seeking their second championship in three years, will not go away that easy. They have failed at Minute Maid Park where they did not lose many games and the feeling is they can make this a series away from the comforts of being home.

Aníbal Sánchez is the next task for the Astros in Game 3 Friday night. The 35-year-old right-hander is not Cole or Verlander. He is not Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg, the top two who can be overpowering on the mound for the Nationals.

“He prevents hitters from making that hard contact,” said that rival scout.

If Sanchez can do that, and often, the Astros could find themselves in that deep part of facing elimination Saturday night with possibilities of getting swept in four games.

Verlander and Cole took that rare back-to-back loss and something says this series is not over as quick as it appears before the start of Game 3 Friday night.

Carlos Correa said the Astros will step to the plate.

“We’re such a good team,” he said. “A 2-0 should not mess with our heads. We should stay focused moving forward for the next game.”

And at this point all the Houston Astros can do is move along to that next game Friday night.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com

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