VEGAS ODDS:  (GAME 6) ~  HOUSTON ASTROS (-173)  ~   TOTAL: (7 1/2)

Well this World Series has completely shifted and now the Astros head home to Minute Maid Park, with a chance to lock down a second World Series Title. The question is can they make it now 4 straight wins in a row over the slumping bats of the Washington Nats or can the Nats do what they did in Game 1 and 2 in Houston, and win two more on the Road and finish what would be the most improbable of all World Series, 7 games, with the Road team winning all 7 games?

The Astros look out matched in the first games, losing both at Home and both with their elite studs starting, G. Cole and J. Verlander. Now it’s Verlander’s chance to redeem himself for an awful Game 2 Loss and really an overall horrible Post season so far. He will have to outduel the Nats S. Strasburg though to end this Series on Tuesday night. But the way the Nats bats have gone ice cold, Strasburg may need to pitch a shut out to force a Game 7.

The Nats bats were red hot until Game 3-4-5, at Home no less, where the #1-4 hitters just turned into popsicles at the plate. Turner, Eaton, Rendon and Soto are a combined (8-48) the past 3 games and the #1-2 hitters are (0-16) the past two games. The Nationals have managed just one run in each of the last 3 games and must somehow get this top of the lineup going again or they are likely toast. As the Nats bats got cold, the Astros bats have come alive again, with 19 runs, 34 hits in the 3 game winning streak. This is the reason why the Astros won 107 games. They hit 1-8 really well and they hit with Power as well.

This though for drama can’t get much better as we get to watch two of MLB’s best Starting Pitchers this year face off in what should be as good of a Pitching match up as you will ever see. Verlander and Strasburg this year just dominated the regular season. The Playoffs haven’t been kind to Verlander though, as he is (2-3) in the W-L department, and he’s really not be close to his at times nearly unhittable self. In fact we are used to seeing him go 8 innings and this Post season he’s lasted (6, 7, 6.2, 3.2 and 7 innings). He’s allowed 6 homers his last 4 starts combined, and in Game 2 he seemed to struggle from the get go. He did hang in there, allowing 4 earned runs and 7 hits, but he walked 3 batters and only K’ed 6 batters. He dominated at Home in the regular season, going (10-4) and (2.34) ERA. Opposing hitters batted just (.180), while striking out (145) and walking only 22. He has been a little messed up not pitching on normal rest of late, but for Game 6 he will be on perfect rest. Strasburg is a perfect (3-0) in the Post season including the Game 2 win at Minute Maid Park last week. He wasn’t dominant, but he did pitch well enough to lead the team to a big win. It was then where it looked like the Nats would be crowned Champs as they took a big (2-0) Series lead back home to D.C. for 3 games, needing only two wins in those 3 to clinch in front of their home fans. They never sniffed one win, let along the two needed to clinch.

I feel like this is the game Verlander goes back to his dominating self, as the home fans pump him up and get his juices flowing, and the ole 100 MPH pitches coming to the plate often. But I think Strasburg, knowing he will need to match Verlander pitch for pitch with his mates bats so ice cold, that he also will put forth a dominating performance. None of these games has really been super tight, with (4-1) the only semi close one. I think we see a Pitching Classic in Game 6. Hard to make a bet on the Nats though as the bats are just too FRIGID COLD and now the pressure is added on to with the dreaded ole “MUST WIN” label too. With the Umpires taking a ton of heat for missed strike calls of late, I think we see anything near the plate called a strike in Game 6. Nothing more drama filled than two stud Pitchers dueling it out, with both teams knowing even a stolen base could chance the outcome of the game, and maybe the entire season too.

I hope this one is good as the past few have been very boring and we could use one where every pitch really counts. If the Astros bats though stay smoking hot and the Nats ice cold, these one could end the MLB season on a sour note.

Enjoy the game and have a nice new week ahead.

Gary Greene