Philippine Daily Inquirer
NATIONALS BURST COLE BUBBLE TO TAKE OPENER
HOUSTON—JUAN Soto and the Washington Nationals quickly derailed the Cole Express.
A 20-year-old prodigy with a passion for the big moment, Soto homered onto the train tracks high above the left field wall and hit a two-run double as the Nationals tagged Gerrit Cole and the Houston Astros, 5-4, on Tuesday night in the World Series opener.
“After the first at-bat, I just said, ‘It’s another baseball game,’” Soto said. “In the first at-bat, I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit shaking in my legs.”
Not even a history-making home run by postseason star George Springer—and another shot that nearly tied it in the eighth inning—could deter Washington.
Ryan Zimmerman, still full of sock at 35, also homered to back a resourceful Max Scherzer and boost the wild-card Nationals in their first World Series appearance—tres bien for a franchise that began as the Montreal Expos in 1969.
“They waited a long time,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez
Otherworldly almost all season, Cole looked downright ordinary.
Trea Turner singled on the second pitch of the game and the Nationals were off and running, ending Cole’s 19-game winning streak that stretched back 25 starts to May.
“I didn’t have my A-game tonight,” Cole said.
Not what Cole or anyone else at Minute Maid Park expected, especially after he led the majors in strikeouts, topped the AL in ERA and finished second in the big leagues in wins to teammate Justin Verlander.
Cole had breezed through the AL playoffs, too.
Yet it was a further testament to an eternal truth about baseball: It doesn’t matter what you do the whole season if you don’t get it done in October.
“I think he’s been so good for so long that there builds this thought of invincibility and that it’s impossible to beat him,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “So when it happens, it is a surprise to all of us.”