World Series Game 5 Preview: It’s now a best of three

Getty Images

Before Game 1 last Tuesday the World Series was tied and Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole were set to face off. Today, before Game 5, the World Series is tied and Joe Ross and Gerrit Cole are set to face off. Only now, instead of a best of seven, it’s a best of three.

The GameWorld Series Game 5: Houston Astros vs. Washington Nationals
The Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
The Ballpark: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
The Network: Fox
The Starters: Gerrit Cole vs. Joe Ross

The Upshot:

I imagine there will be talk about “momentum” on this evening’s broadcast, but I really wish we’d avoid that sort of thing.

Washington had momentum after Games 1 and 2 and that didn’t help. The Astros will be said to have “momentum” now, but if the Nats take two out of the next three what will that have mattered? Momentum is largely a b.s. talking point in baseball, used broadly to describe streaks that are better explained by more granular concepts such as, I dunno, “Nationals batters going 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position over the last two games.” Which has, amazingly, happened.

Hits happen. Or they don’t. The top and middle of your order — looking at you, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, and Juan Soto — can go completely cold over the course of two games. Your MVP candidate — looking at you Alex Bregman — will, almost always, come up big eventually. Some of it is about luck. Hitting a hard line drive right at someone instead of right past someone or getting proper hold of one instead of getting under one. The balls fell for the Nats in Games 1 and 2 and they’re not now. Likewise, the Astros bats have heated up. It’s just baseball happening. Two good teams neutralizing each other’s strengths at various points.

The only good thing anyone has ever said about momentum in baseball is the old adage about “momentum being your next game’s starting pitcher.” So let’s talk about those guys.

Nationals fans may be feeling pretty bad today, and Joe Ross on the mound in place of Max Scherzer isn’t going to help. The one silver lining from last night — Dave Martinez not needing to use Daniel Hudson or Sean Doolittle — works to their advantage, the hits that have not been falling over the past two nights actually fall, and Washington rides three pitchers and just enough offense to victory. It’s an eminently reasonable scenario.

Also reasonable, though, is the idea of Gerrit Cole not being as bad tonight as he was in Game 1.

Cole gave up five runs on eight hits over seven innings on Tuesday and the Nats should not expect that to happen again. I mean, he had allowed just one earned run in his previous three postseason starts, covering 22.2 innings and hadn’t lost in ages, so it was a tad out of the ordinary. Houston will also hope that their offense, which has been resurgent over the past two games, keeps rolling. José Altuve and Michael Brantley each have multiple hits over the past three games. Robinson Chirinos has homered in back-to-back games.

Ross against Cole. Then Strasburg against Verlander. It ain’t about momentum. It’s about strength against strength. It’s about which of two very evenly-matched teams with evenly-matched starters and big weapons on offense execute better.

It’s about two out of three for the World Series title.

Yanks pitcher Severino has lat strain, likely to start on IL

severino injury
Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees could be opening the season without three-fifths of their projected starting rotation.

Right-hander Luis Severino has a low-grade lat strain, Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters Saturday, putting the two-time All-Star at risk of starting the season on the injured list.

“Obviously it’s going to put him in jeopardy to start the year,” Boone said.

Boone expressed optimism this wouldn’t be a long-term issue but acknowledged that Severino “most likely” would get placed on the injured list.

Severino, 29, went 7-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 19 starts last season. He struck out 112 in 102 innings.

Boone said the issue arose after Severino made his last start on Tuesday.

“Afterwards when he was kind of doing his workout, arm-care stuff, he just felt some tightness in there,” Boone said. “He came in the next day and it was a little tight, and then yesterday he was going to go out and throw and that tightness was still there enough to where he wanted to go get it looked at.”

The Yankees already won’t have right-hander Frankie Montas or left-hander Carlos Rodón for the start of the season.

Rodón, who joined the Yankees by signing a $162 million, six-year contract in the offseason, has a left forearm strain that will cause him to open the season on the injured list. Rodón has been an All-Star the last two seasons, in 2021 with the Chicago White Sox and in 2022 with the San Francisco Giants.

Montas is recovering from shoulder surgery and won’t begin throwing until at least late May.

The only projected starters from the Yankees’ rotation likely to be ready for the beginning of the season are five-time All-Star right-hander Gerrit Cole and 2022 All-Star left-hander Nestor Cortes.


Jacob deGrom struck out six over 3 2/3 shutout innings against the San Diego Padres in his final start before making his Texas Rangers regular-season debut.

The Rangers had announced Friday that deGrom would get the start Thursday when the Rangers open their season against Aaron Nola and the Philadelphia Phillies. The two-time Cy Young Award winner signed a five-year, $185 million contract with the Rangers in the offseason after spending nine seasons with the New York Mets.


Zack Greinke pitched 5 1/3 innings in his final test before he gets the ball against the Minnesota Twins in Kansas City on Thursday.

It will be Greinke’s seventh opening day start. At 39 years old, he will be the oldest opening-day starter in the history of the Royals franchise, breaking his own record set last year. He will be the the oldest opening day starter in the American League since a 40-year-old Curt Schilling started against the Royals in 2007.

Greinke allowed two runs on five hits against the Dodgers with no walks and two strikeouts.

“He was great today,” first-year manager Matt Quatraro said.“It certainly looked like the way they (Dodger batters) were taking those pitches, he was just dotting the plate on both sides. His two-seamer and changeup looked really good. It was encouraging.”


First baseman Luke Voit has opted out of his minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, giving the veteran slugger the opportunity to negotiate with other teams. He also could still return to the Brewers on a major league contract.

In other Brewers news, right-hander Adrian Houser left his start Saturday after 1 2/3 innings due to groin tightness.