Force the starter to grind. Trust your pitchers. Feast on the bullpen.
While the Astros came up just short in Game 1 of their World Series, their strategy was proven quite sound over the course of nine intense innings.
And, much like in the ALCS against the Yankees, Houston can't let themselves get discouraged by a disappointment in the opener. Unlike that previous series, there doesn't even seem to be an adjustment to be made here.
By any measure, Houston made Max Scherzer work for every out he obtained in this battle. It took 112 pitches to fight through only five innings from Mad Max, leaving the underbelly of Washington's bullpen exposed for four tough frames in this one. Nationals manager Dave Martinez got so desperate to hold on, in fact, that he went to potential Game 3 starter Patrick Corbin to handle the fifth, and managed to get Houston batters a great look at theoretical "secret weapon" Tanner Rainey in a flop of a seventh. All things considered, we saw stressful pitches from Rainey, Daniel Hudson, and Sean Doolittle in this one, and the Nats now have to make a rotation swap in Game 3, moving Anibal Sanchez up. The Game 1 gameplan worked for the Nats, but it's not sustainable, especially after all the great work done by Houston batters.
Even after Gerrit Cole's worst outing in months, the Astros had the tying run on second base in the eighth with one out and Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley coming to the plate. That's the situation you hope to earn back in the third and fourth, while you're busy swatting away Max Scherzer fastballs and spitting on outside breakers. That's the ideal.
The goal of any baseball team is to set things up so that, if the breaks go their way, they'll be victorious. That's the only advantage Houston didn't earn in this one, but there's no reason to believe things won't even out shortly.