HOUSTON — The Washington Nationals are your 2019 World Series Champions. Let that sink in. The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in a Game 7 for the ages in Houston to become the first team to ever win a World Series by only winning road games.
Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer were both on top of their game early, each throwing scoreless 1st innings with the only blemish being a 2-out Michael Brantley base on balls. The action in Game 7 really began in the 2nd inning.
Juan Soto recorded the first hit of the night for either team with a leadoff single to right field in the 2nd inning. Greinke quickly cleared the bases by inducing, showing off his Gold Glove fielding by starting off the 1-4-3 double play. He finished off the inning by retiring Asdrubal Cabrera and the 36-year old Orlando native was through 2 innings on a very economical 20 pitches. Coincidentally that is the exact same amount of pitches it took Stephen Strasburg to cruise through the first two frames Tuesday night.
Yuli Gurriel drew first blood in Game 7, tagging a leadoff solo home run off of a Max Scherzer slider in the 2nd inning. After an uneventful and scoreless opening inning, the Astros had taken the early 1-0 lead, as Max served up his usual early home run. The homer also made the Astros the first home team to score first in a World Series Game 7 since the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, who eventually went on to win that game and the title.
The hits continued off Scherzer as Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa hit back to back singles following the Gurriel homer. It was 1at and 2nd, no outs with a run already in against Scherzer. Robinson Chirinos attempted to advance the runners with a bunt put popped it up to catcher Yan Gomes. Ryan Zimmerman next made a nice play along the first base line to retire Josh Reddick and George Springer was up to bat with 2nd and 3rd, 2-outs. Springer took Scherzer’s 33rd pitch of the night, a low 97 mph fast ball and hit a sinking line drive to right field that Soto had to fall to his knees to make the catch the cheers of the Nationals’ faithful at Nationals Park for the watch party in the light, but steady rain. Max Scherzer had stopped the bleeding and was through 2 innings in Game 7, having avoided potential disaster for the time being.
Zack Greinke sent Zimmerman, Gomes and Victor Robles down in order on only 8 pitches, meaning he was through 3 innings on a minimalistic 28 pitches (9.3 pitches per inning to that point).
Jose Altuve led off the 3rd inning with a single over the leaping Trea Turner into left field. Alex Bregman’s 1-out walk made it two Astros but Scherzer was able to get Gurriel and Alvarez to fly out to escape the 3rd inning pickle. The Houston hitters had forced the big righty to throw 55 pitches to make to this point, but this is how Mad Max Scherzer operates.
Zack Greinke continued to show of his Glove Glove with a leaping on a comeback in the 4th inning for the 2nd out. Greinke finished off the inning by fanning Anthony Rendon, the offensive hero of Game 6 fresh off his 5 RBI performance, with a 89 mph fastball in on the hands. It was Greinke’s first strikeout of the game but it was a big one. He was now through 4 innings on an amazing 41 pitches (10.25 pitches/inning).
Scherzer recorded his first strikeout of the night for the 2nd out of the 4th before working around a 2-out Josh Reddick single and Springer single for a relatively easy inning of work, culminating in Altuve flying out to Robles in centerfield. Scherzer was at 77 pitchers though those 4 innings. Again that’s now Max does it.
At this point, both pitchers appeared to be locked in, albeit Greinke was locked in from the literal first pitch of Game 7, an 88 mph four-seam fastball for a perfect strike to Trea Turner. The Astros held the slimmest of leads, 1-0, heading into the top of the 5th inning, with Greinke having faced the minimum amount of Nationals’ hitters. Juan Soto couldn’t hold up his swing according to 3rd base umpire, James Hoye, to register Greinke’s 2nd consecutive strike out leading off the 5th inning. Howie Kendrick was able to work a rare full count against Greinke and eventually drew a 1-out walk. Greinke made another great play on a Cabrera sacrifice bunt and Kendrick advanced to 2nd base with 2 outs. The Original National, Ryan Zimmerman strolled to the plate and ended up popping out first base on Greinke’s 59th pitch of the night to end the 5th inning.
Gerrit Cole starting throwing in the Houston dugout during the bottom of the 5th inning. The only relief appearance Cole had ever made prior to Wednesday night had been all the way back in college as a UCLA Bruin.
Scherzer got Bregman swinging for the first out of the 5th after Brantley singled leading off the inning. Turner made a nice backhanded stop off the bat of Gurriel and the Astros first baseman just beat out a potential inning ending double play. Alvarez then walked to make it 1st and 2nd, 2-outs and Scherzer was up to 93 pitches and in one of his biggest jams of the night. The Astros struck again when Carlos Correa roundball down the 3rd baseline and Gurriel came in to score the 2nd Houston run of the night off Scherzer. The Nationals now trailed 2-0 in the 5th inning of Game 7. Scherzer got Robinson Chirinos to strike out for the 2nd time to end the 5th inning but his bats had their work cut out for them, now down 2 runs with only 12-outs to work with.
Greinke was back out for the 6th inning, now leading 2-0, and still sitting on just 59 pitches. Gomes flew out first pitch swinging, Robles grounded out on an “excuse me” checked swing and Turner went down looking on just 3 pitches, the 3rd being a 88 mph four seamer, the exact same pitch Greinke threw to him leading off the game and he had struck out his 3rd batter. The Astros’ $31 million man was through 6 innings in Game and had still only thrown an absurd 67 pitches.
Patrick Corbin came in to start the 6th inning in relief of Max Scherzer whose night was over after 5 hard fought innings and 103 pitches. Corbin promptly gave up a leadoff single to pinch hitter Jake Marisnick. Not an ideal start with Springer, Altuve and Brantley due up for Houston. Corbin proceeded to send Springer down on a silly swing a a pitch in the dirt. A single pitch later the lefty got an inning ending 4-3 double play off the bat of Altuve. The Nationals remained down 2-0 heading to the 7th inning in Houston.
Anthony Rendon broke the Nationals through scoring wise in the 7th, blasting a 1-out solo home run off Greinke to cut the Nationals deficit down to 2-1. A quick recap of Rendon’s at bats in the 7th inning or later during the Nats’ 5 elimination games after this home run: BB, 2B, HR, 2B, HR, 2B, HR. To that I say:
(Video Credit: Rounders (1998), Miramax Films)
Soto then walked and Greinke’s night was over after 7.1 innings, still responsible for the runner on 1st. Will Harris came in to face Howie Kendrick who rung Harris’ 2nd pitch off the right field foul pole for an opposite field 2-run homers. In the blink of an eye, in just 3 batters, the Nationals had gone from down 2-0 to up 3-2 in the 7th inning of Game 7. The fans in Houston were stunned but the fans at Nationals Park who had sat through the first 6 innings in a steady rain were going nuts and rightfully so, Roberto Osuna came in to record the final two out of the 7th inning but the Nationals still took a lead, 3-2, to the bottom of the 7th inning. The Washington Nationals were 9 outs away from a historic World Series title.
The rain started to pick up at Nationals Park but the crowd didn’t care, singing and dancing in the rain as Ah Ha’s “Take on Me” blasted through the stadium PA system during the 7th inning stretch. Corbin worked got two quick outs in the 7th inning before allowing a single to Gurriel. The first year Nationals lefty got Alvarez to ground out on three pitches to complete the 2nd of 2 superb innings in relief of Scherzer and bring his team within 6-outs of the World Series.
Adam Eaton reached base once again this World Series with a 1-out walk in the 8th inning before promptly swiping 2nd base. Juan Soto gave the Nationals an insurance run with a 2-out RBI single to right field that drove in Adam Eaton from 2nd base and the crowd at Nationals Park watching on the Jumbotron were going ballistic. The World Series was so close they could taste it in DC.
The Nationals got two more runs in the 9th on a bases loaded 2-run single by Adam Eaton. As much as he was on base so much that maybe sending Giolito, Lopez, etc. to Chicago. It was a 6-2 Washington lead in the top of the 9th.
When the the smoke settled in Game 7 the Washington Nationals has reached the mountain top and were finally World Champions! The streets of the nation’s Capitol ran red with Curly Ws Wednesday night as the fans celebrated, champions at last, late in the night!