Kurt Suzuki ignited a rally in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series all by keeping the bat on his shoulder and taking a free pass.
Facing an early two run deficit in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series, the Washington Nationals began to claw their way back. A pair of solo home runs dead locked the game again heading into the fifth inning. That’s when Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki strolled to the plate to face Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole.
At this point, with the score tied 2-2, the game was still up in the air. A closer look may lead you to believe the Astros held the upper hand.
Cole, had made nine starts in a row (including three in the playoffs) without surrendering more than two runs. Max Scherzer, the man on the mound for the Nationals, had labored through four innings with a pitch count sitting at 99.
The score may have been even, the feeling was the Astros had the momentum, playing Game 1 in the friendly confines of Minute Maid Stadium.
Up stepped Kurt Suzuki to lead off the fifth inning.
To this point Cole had only been pushed to one, three-ball count. This was the Suzuki at-bat in the second inning where he grounded out on a full-count pitch. In fact he had reached two balls to only two of the other sixteen hitters he had faced. Needless to say, he was dialed in.
Suzuki was able to get ahead in the count as Cole missed with two off-speed pitches low and away. A “get-me-over” fastball got Cole on the board with a strike, though he missed with another curveball making the count 3-1. Cole again went fastball, he’d thrown Suzuki five in the first plate appearance. In this at-bat, the first four pitches were the lower half of the strike zone, the final fastball was high. Cole was hoping Suzuki would offer as his line of sight had been changed. He did not.
A five pitch walk, was followed by Victor Robles and Adam Eaton singles, the latter being of the run producing kind. Juan Soto broke the game open with his two-out, two-run, double to center field.
The walk to Kurt Suzuki would be the only one Gerrit Cole would surrender all game. As the old saying goes, leadoff walks come back to haunt you, this one did indeed.
While the walk wasn’t the big blow of the game, Suzuki forced Cole to pitch out of the stretch for the first time all game. The Nationals were able to put together a few hits and leave the inning up by three. They took a lead they would not relinquish.
The Washington Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series that night, and the patience of Kurt Suzuki helped them get there.