WASHINGTON, D.C. - After an Astros victory in World Series Game 3 over the Nationals on Friday night, Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos sang the praises of how good and well-rounded his team is. He talked about the bullpen, the rotation, and how his teammates are running the bases. He covered everything -- well, almost everything. He didn't really talk about himself, even after he hit a home run in the 4-1 win.
Chirinos had another loud swing Saturday night. He crushed a two-run homer off Washington starter Patrick Corbin in the fourth inning of Game 4 to extend the Astros' lead to 4-0.
That helped atone for a double play off the bat of Chirinos that ended a furious Astros rally in the first inning. This time in the clubhouse Chirinos talked about himself a little bit, though it took someone to specifically ask about his approach.
"Just working so hard in the cage to be consistent and make sure I'm putting good swings on the ball," he said when asked what led to these two homers. Of course, he still had to blend in the bad with the good.
"I feel like my first at-bat I chased a changeup down and I rolled over it for a double play. My second at-bat I was more calm, took a slider down and in -- it was a good pitch, the first one I took -- the second one was a changeup, it was a bad pitch. He was trying to down-away and it ended up middle-middle and I was able to get to it."
Oh, and he wasn't done. He had to finish up the way a consummate teammate does before taking the next question.
"I'm proud to help my team win," Chirinos said. "In the end, you can hit homers but if you don't win a game, it doesn't mean anything."
Well, I like where Chirinos' head is, but that last part isn't really true. He made history.
With a homer in two straight games, Chirinos is on a short list.
- He's only the second player in Astros history to homer in two straight World Series games (George Springer did it five straight times dating from 2017 through Game 1 this year).
- Chirinos is the first catcher to homer in back-to-back World Series games since Ted Simmons of the 1982 Cardinals.
- He's also the first catcher ever with multiple World Series home runs after his 35th birthday, per baseball-reference.com.
Chirinos has been calling good games here in D.C., too, coaxing the Astros' bullpen through some really tough spots in Game 3 and working with a bullpen game in Game 4. That's an awful lot of information to work with, and it's one of the reasons so many catchers make good managers in their post-playing careers.
"Anytime there's a good pitching outing, you've got to credit the catcher for getting him through a few situations and just calming him down from the very beginning," manager A.J. Hinch said. "And I think Robbie is an unsung hero."
Jose Urquidy, the unlikely dominant pitcher of Game 4, agrees.
"Obviously Chirinos has been incredibly important to me and he's helped me out so much behind the plate," said Urquidy. "He's someone that I trust 100 percent with every pitch and he's been an incredible help to me and to all the pitchers."
In fact, it's a good thing that Chirinos is making noise on this big stage. He's an underrated player who has been through a lot. Earlier in his career, he missed an entire season due to issues relating to concussions. He's been under-the-radar and under-appreciated for a while. What we've learned this series in the clubhouse is how much he values team over individual.
He's also coming off the best season of his career. He was worth 3.8 WAR, which was good for fourth-best among catchers. His catcher ERA was 3.47, the best in baseball among catchers who started at least 100 games behind the plate. Sure, the pitching staff helps, but we've heard for years from pitchers that certain catchers are more helpful than others. Max Stassi had a 4.07 catcher ERA with the Astros, for example.
This series is going to go at least six games, so there's time for Chirinos to position himself for a surprise MVP run. It's unlikely with how Jose Altuve is hitting, but if Chirinos keeps homering and the Astros pull off the comeback, you never know. Regardless, he's been a bit part of digging out of the 0-2 hole and deserves his due -- even if he only really cares about the team getting the credit.