Stephen Strasburg pitches gem, Anthony Rendon drives in five runs as Nationals force World Series Game 7

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Stephen Strasburg delivered eight strong innings in Game 6 of the World Series with the Nationals on the ropes. Adam Eaton, Juan Soto, and Anthony Rendon contributed home runs in the 7-2 victory.

The offense got going early as the Nationals used small ball to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Justin Verlander. Trea Turner reached on an infield single, though he was initially called out but rightfully given his base upon replay review. Eaton moved Turner to second base with a bunt and Anthony Rendon sent him home with a grounder up the middle.

The Astros bounced right back to plate two runs in the bottom half of the second against Strasburg. George Springer sent a rocket off of the wall in left field for a double, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on José Altuve’s sacrifice fly. Alex Bregman broke the 1-1 tie with a solo homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Bregman carried his bat with him to first base, an act that somehow proved controversial.

Both starters would settle down from there, with the offenses remaining mostly dormant until the fifth inning. Verlander made a couple of mistakes in the top half of the frame, surrendering solo homers to Eaton and Soto. Soto mimicked Bregman, carrying his bat with him to first base and dropping it in front of first base coach Tim Bogar. Verlander saw his way out of the inning, but it would be his last. He allowed the three runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts on 93 pitches. He has still not earned a win in a World Series start, now with seven tries.

Strasburg, meanwhile, found himself speeding towards the end of the game. He worked around a leadoff single in the sixth, then tossed a 1-2-3 seventh and eighth on 16 combined pitches. There was some more umpiring drama in the seventh, click here to read about that. Just for good measure, Anthony Rendon tacked on two insurance runs with a double to right-center field in the top of the ninth, taking all kinds of pressure off of Strasburg.

Strasburg returned to the mound for the top of the ninth at 102 pitches, attempting to become the first pitcher to throw a complete game in the World Series since Johnny Cueto for the Royals in Game 2 of the 2015 Fall Classic. It was not in the cards. Strasburg got Gurriel out on a deflected line drive to Asdrúbal Cabrera. Acting manager Chip Hale decided to bring in lefty Sean Doolittle for the platoon matchup against Yordan Álvarez, ending Strasburg’s outstanding night. Doolittle got Álvarez to line out to left field for the second out. Carlos Correa kept the Astros’ hopes alive with a line drive double off of the left field wall, but Robinson Chirinos popped up to second base to end the game.

Strasburg’s final line: 8 1/3 innings, two runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts on 104 pitches. He now has a 1.46 career postseason ERA in 55 1/3 innings.

With the Nationals’ 7-2 win on Tuesday, the road team has now won the first six games of the World Series. It’s the first time the road team has won the first six games of the World Series. The Nationals will hope to make it seven. The two clubs will play for all the marbles on Wednesday night. Zack Greinke will go for the Astros and Max Scherzer will heroically start for the Nationals.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).