The Washington Nationals stunned the Houston Astros in seven games to win the World Series. The Nationals have had a very long road to this point. Former Nationals star Bryce Harper turned down a 10-year, $300 million offer from the Nationals and went to the Philadelphia Phillies for 13 years and $330 million. The Nationals started the season with an NL worst 19-31 record. But after May 23rd, they had the best record in the MLB and finished in the first Wild Card spot. They were led through the playoffs with great offensive performances by Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton producing runs. Also, they had great pitching performances by Max Scherzer and World Series MVP Stephen Strasbourg.
The Nationals surprised the Astros by winning the first two games at Minute Maid Park. Max Scherzer kept his team in it for most of game one and once the Nationals bats got to Gerrit Cole, they were able to win game one off the back of a Juan Soto’s two-run double to put them ahead. In game two, the Nationals got to starter Justin Verlander, scoring four runs off the future Hall of Famer. The Astros were in it for most of the game until a six-run 7th inning, sprung by an Alex Bregman error. The Nationals had all the momentum going back to Washington.
As the series swung back to the Nation’s Capital, the Astros needed a strong response to get this series back to Houston. In game three, the Astros kicked back strongly. They won 4-1 with strong pitching performances by Zach Grienke, Will Harris and Joe Smith. With the series still in the Nationals favor at 2-1, the Astros still needed two more wins to push it back to a game six and home-field advantage. In the best game by the Astros in this series, they won 8-1. Jose Urquidy pitched five strong innings only giving up two hits while striking out four batters. Alex Bregman’s grand slam in the 7th inning buried any hope the Nationals had of pulling this one out. In game five, Gerrit Cole pitched a gem striking out nine batters, only giving up three hits and one earned run. The Nationals pitcher Joe Ross struggling in this one, giving up two big flys hit by Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa. The lone run for the Nationals was a Juan Soto home run that just went over the wall out of the reach of Jake Marisnick’s in left center field in the 7th inning. Now the series shifts back to Houston with all the momentum with the Astros who were planning to start Justin Verlander in Game Six to close out the World Series. It was not possible for the Nationals to win all four games away to clinch the World Series title. Or was it?
In game six, Anthony Rendon started the scoring early, knocking a single to center to score Trea Turner in the top of the first inning. In the bottom half, Jose Altuve hit a sacrifice fly that ended up scoring George Springer and Alex Bregman’s no-doubt home run put the Astros on top 2-1 going into the second inning. After his home run, he controversially ran with his bat to first base, this would come back to bite him later in the game. The Nationals offense was shut down until the top of the fifth, and their bats finally came alive. Adam Eaton hit a shot down the right field line for a home run, which tied the game at two. Then, 21-year old Juan Soto comes up to the plate. He hits a moonshot to right field, which put the Nationals on top. He carries his bat to first base just like Alex Bregman did earlier in the game. From that point on, the Nationals had finished them off with Anthony Rendon hitting a two-run home run and adding a double in the ninth that scored two more. The Nationals were led by Stephen Strasbourg in this game. He put on a great performance striking out seven batters only giving up five hits and two earned runs. Now, this series was going to a game seven, the best two words in sports.
In game seven, Yuli Gurriel started the scoring in the second inning with a solo shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Then the Astros added another in the 5th inning to make it 2-0. Zach Grienke had an unbelievable outing, shutting the loud bats of the Nationals down for most of the game. Then in the top of the 7th inning, Grienke faced off against Anthony Rendon. The Nationals had only a 20% chance to win the game before this at-bat by Rendon according to baseball-reference. Rendon hits a home run out to left field off Grienke to make the game 2-1. The Astros had star pitcher Gerrit Cole warming up in the bullpen before the inning had started but decided against bringing him in at all. They bring in Will Harris instead and Howie Kendrick, who has been in the league for 14 years and has never won a World Series, hits the biggest home run in his life to score him and Juan Soto to put the Nationals up 3-2. The Nationals shut down the Astros bats and added another run off Roberto Osuna in the eight, and two more in the ninth inning. The Astros don’t score another run and the Nationals win 6-2 and claim the World Series.
Against all odds, the Nationals found a way to turn their season around and find a way to win games. The loss of Bryce Harper, a horrible start to the season, a shaky bullpen for most of the year, and a team that seemed just too old was just some of the things this team had to overcome throughout the year. They also became the first team in World Series history to win all four games on the road to clinch the title. This alone would be hard for any team to do but put it with everything else that happened with this team, it is a remarkable achievement for the Nationals organization.