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The boos started instantly. When Donald Trump appeared on the outfield screen during Game 5 of the World Series, most of the 43,910 fans at Nationals Park let him know how they felt. The prolonged, pent-up chorus of boos after the third inning lasted about 15 seconds, drowning out the announcer, and only let up after the camera panned away.
The Nats would go on to lose, 7-1, to the Astros on Sunday night and now head to Houston for a must-win Game 6 on Tuesday. For the third night in a row, the Nats’ offense struggled at the plate and the bullpen failed to limit the damage.
But Game 5 may be remembered for the things outside of the actual play on the field.
Before the game began, Nats manager Dave Martinez announced that ace Max Scherzer, one of the best pitchers in baseball, would be unable to play after he woke up with severe neck spasms. He appeared stiff during a pregame press conference and told reporters that he could not move his arms when he woke up. Martinez named Joe Ross as the replacement starter.
“I’m as disappointed as I possibly can be not to be able to pitch tonight,” Scherzer said. “It’s Game 5 of the World Series. I’ve pitched through so much crap in my career that that would be easy to pitch through at this point. This is literally impossible to do anything with.”
Elsewhere in the stadium, Puerto Rican artist Pedro Capó and Nats’ Brian Dozier finally got to meet each other. Capó‘s hit song, “Calma,” has become an unofficial anthem for the team this season and on Sunday, Dozier, along Nats pitcher Aníbal Sánchez, got to briefly perform the song with the singer-songwriter himself.
Even before the game began, the fans packed Nats Park and the place sounded as loud as it’s ever been.
Chef, humanitarian, and vocal Trump critic José Andrés wore the yellow version of the Bubly glasses made popular by Gerardo Parra and Sanchez, and received a standing ovation from the crowd during his ceremonial first pitch. He heaved his entire body into the throw, which went straight to the catcher.
The game itself featured little for Nats fans to cheer about. In five innings of work against the Astros, the 26-year-old Ross gave up a pair of two-run homers in his first career postseason start. A Nats fan went viral for taking the second-inning homer by Yordan Alvarez to the chest instead of dropping either of his Bud Light cans. And a home run by Juan Soto at the top of the seventh inning provided the only score for the Nats.
Later in the seventh inning, Victor Robles struck out on a questionable strike call from home plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Nats Park unleashed anger toward Barksdale and it revived the debate over whether MLB should use an electronic system to make calls.
In the same inning, three women behind home plate flashed Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole. The TV cameras caught two of the women, Julia Rose and Lauren Summer, on the broadcast, and they both received letters alerting them that they have been banned indefinitely from MLB games.
On Monday morning, the flashers, who say they did it for breast cancer awareness, were one of the trending stories on Google News for the World Series.
In the clubhouse after the game, players commended Ross for stepping up on the sport’s biggest stage at the last minute, defended Scherzer, and refused to blame the umpire for the loss.
“If there’s anyone who wants to be out there, it’s him,” Ryan Zimmerman said of Scherzer. “And if there’s anyone who would do literally anything possible to be out there, it’s him. So I hope he knows we all have his back.”
The Nats have proven this season that they play best when behind. After three mostly forgettable games and an unforgettable night in D.C., they get another chance on Tuesday with Stephen Strasburg on the mound.
“I think we’ve done a tremendous job of digging ourselves out of those holes,” Adam Eaton told reporters after the game. “We’re kinda a battle-tested ship, so to speak. We’ve had a lot of battles and been through some really tough storms, but I think we’re stronger for it, and we’re looking at this no different.”