Astros’ Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander Join Former Dodgers’ Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax As 20-Game Winners To Lose Games 1 & 2 Of World Series

The Washington Nationals began what’s shaped up to be a remarkable postseason run by rallying against the Milwaukee Brewers in the eighth inning of the National League Wild Card Game, and now are two wins from the first World Series championship in franchise history.

The Nationals’ eliminating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series marked their first ever postseason series win. Their sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals to win the pennant was less surprising, but that’s increased through the first two games of the Fall Classic.

The Nationals not only twice defeated the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, they did so against Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. The losses have put the right-handers on the wrong end of MLB history but in esteemed company.

Per STATS LLC, Cole and Verlander are the first pair of 20-game winners to lose Games 1 and 2 of a World Series since Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax did so with the Dodgers in 1965. Cole and Verlander are the first duo to suffer that reality at home.

Cole went seven innings in the series opener but squandered a 2-0 lead he was given in the first inning. He allowed a run in each the second and fourth, then was knocked around for three runs in the fifth as the Nationals took a decided lead.

Meanwhile, Verlander struggled out of the gate in Game 2 and put the Astros in a 2-0 deficit. Houston tied the game in the bottom of the first inning, only for self-inflicted damage in the seventh to lead to six runs in a 12-3 rout for the Nationals.

Although Cole and Verlander have suffered consecutive defeats after each put together a dominant regular season, they need look no further than Drysdale and Koufax for reason to be optimistic. The legendary hurlers rebounded in the ’65 World Series to help lead the Dodgers to a win in seven games.

Drysdale allowed just two runs and had 11 strikeouts as part of a complete game in Game 4, and Koufax followed that with nine scoreless and 10 strikeouts in Game 5. The three consecutive victories put the Dodgers on the brink of a championship but they suffered a loss at Metropolitan Stadium.

Koufax took the mound in a decisive Game 7 on the road and again collected 10 strikeouts over nine shutout innings. He finished 2-1 with a 0.38 ERA, 29 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched, held opponents to a .160/.209/.185 batting line and was named World Series MVP.