It was back in the fall of 2013 when Detroit right-handers Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer combined for back-to-back starts in which they combined to allow the Boston Red Sox just two hits in a combined 13 innings of work in the first two games of the ALCS.
Well, it's not the fall of 2013 and they are now with Washington, but they are up to their same old post-season tricks. Sanchez and Scherzer combined for back-to-back starts in which to hold the St. Louis Cardinals to just two hits, this time in a combined 14 innings of work in the first two games of the NLCS.
Only this time it was better because as opposed to 2013 when the Tigers bullpen went to pieces after taking over for Scherzer in what became a 6-5 Boston win, the bullpen finished off the domination of the Cardinals, and the Nationals flew home from St. Louis with a 2-0 edge in the best-of-seven series.
And to think, with the Nationals Sanchez is the fourth starter, put into the Game 1 role because the best-of-five NL Division Series went the full distance, meaning Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasrubg, and Patrick Corbin had to be pushed back to start Games 2-through-4, if there is a four with the way the Nationals have dealt with the Cardinals.
The Nationals bullpen has done a decent job, too. Consider that Cardinals pinch-hitter Jose Martinez is 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI. The rest of the Cardinals? They are 2-for-55 with two singles, no RBI. They have struck out 18 times while drawing only three walks.
The Nationals have enjoyed Nationals Park this year. They are 52-32, a .619 winning percentage, which is the third best home-field winning percentage in the NL.
Is that good? Well, the two teams ahead of them -- the Dodgers and Cubs -- aren't playing anymore. The Dodgers were eliminated by the Nationals in the NL Division Series, and the Cubs didn't even make the post-season.
Oh, and their 51-31 regular season record at home was matched by the Cardinals -- who they just swept in the first two games of the NLCS, and the Braves, who the Cardinals eliminated in the NL Division Series.
And the Nationals do find themselves holding the upperhand, winning the first two games on the road before heading to D.C. for Game 3 on Monday. In seven-game series under the current 2-3-2 format, teams winning the first two games on the road have gone on to win 21 of 24 times.