Washington won the first two contests in Houston before falling behind 3-2 after a trio of consecutive losses at home. They returned to Houston and found their momentum as Stephen Strasburg pitched a gem of a game.
And of course, tonight: Washington won the final game — the final Major League Baseball game of this decade.
The Nationals sent Max Scherzer to the mound, just a few days after a serious neck issue was restricting him from even moving his body. Meanwhile, Houston enlisted Zack Greinke to take care of their pitching duties.
The game opened with a scoreless and hitless frame before Juan Soto laced a single in the second inning.
The Nationals failed to put runs on the board in the second frame, but the Astros did strike, as Yuli Gurriel’s 389-foot blast gave them the 1-0 lead. Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa then hit back-to-back singles, but Robinson Chirinos’ weak bunt attempt for the first out halted the momentum as Josh Reddick grounded out and George Springer flew out.
To open the third inning, Greinke threw just eight pitches, bringing his total to just 28 through three frames. In the bottom half, Jose Altuve singled and found his way to second on an Alex Bregman walk, but the other batters were unable to plate either of them.
Zack Greinke continued to play solid defense on the mound, recording a quick two outs in the first inning before he also struck out Anthony Rendon in a six-pitch battle to finish the inning. At this point, Greinke had thrown just 41 pitches through four innings, facing the minimum (when Soto reached, he was thrown out during a double play) and posting a near-perfect performance on the mound. In the Astros’ half, their woes with runners in scoring position continued as Jose Altuve flew out to center field with a pair of runners on.
A walk was all the Nationals could put together in the top of the fifth as Greinke continued to dominate. Houston took their hacks at the plate, and after two quick outs, they were able to work a two-on, two-out situation with Yuli Gurriel on second and Yordan Alvarez on first. Then, the Astros added their second run as Carlos Correa’s grounder hit off of Anthony Rendon’s glove and skipped into the outfield, scoring Gurriel. Robinson Chirinos struck out minutes later, but the added damage had been done.
Zack Greinke continued to shine in the sixth, mowing down Nationals hitters in a 1-2-3 inning. The Astros were also somewhat silenced by Patrick Corbin, who entered in relief of Max Scherzer. Scherzer exited while losing but did pitch a decent game, allowing two runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings. Houston’s lone hit in the sixth came from Jake Marisnick who entered off the bench, replacing Josh Reddick.
With one out in the top of the seventh, the Nationals put their first run of the game on the board as MVP candidate Anthony Rendon launched a baseball 374 feet to the Crawford Boxes, cutting Houston’s lead to 2-1. Juan Soto then walked and A.J. Hinch had no choice but to pull Greinke in favor of Will Harris as Greinke walked to the dugout with the fans breaking into a standing ovation. Greinke finished with one run (two earned; keep reading) on just two hits in 6.1 innings. He allowed two walks while striking out three. Then, on his second pitch of the game, Harris allowed a two-run shot to Howie Kendrick that hit off the foul pole, giving Washington a 3-2 lead. The next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, singled, prompting Hinch to quickly pull Harris from the game. He allowed two runs on two hits while failing to record an out. Roberto Osuna entered and walked Ryan Zimmerman before getting Yan Gomes to pop out to second base and Victor Robles to fly out. The inning ended, but the damage was done as Washington took the lead. For Houston, Yuli Gurriel hit a single, but he wedged it between three outs. After seven, Washington had the 3-2 lead.
In the eighth, Adam Eaton reached with one out and stole second base, a crucial play as it eliminated any potential force out. Juan Soto singled to score Eaton with two outs, making it a 4-2 game. Howie Kendrick hit a single that moved Soto to third and Osuna was pulled from the game with a final line of one run on two hits in 1.1 innings. Ryan Pressly entered and got Asdrubal Cabrera to line out on the second pitch he saw. In the bottom half of he inning, Carlos Correa was ruled out on a questionable called third strike. Robinson Chirinos grounded out and Jake Marisnick struck out to end the inning.
In the ninth and final inning of the game (and series, and season, and decade ... gulp), Joe Smith took the mound for Houston. He allowed a single to Ryan Zimmerman before Yan Gomes reached on a fielder’s choice. Victor Robles then singled, putting runners on first and second with one out. Trea Turner was next to join the fun as he drew a walk, prompting Hinch to pull Smith from the game and replace him with Jose Urquidy in a tough situation. Adam Eaton quickly hit a single to center that was mishandled by Jake Marisnick, scoring a pair of runs as Washington’s lead grew to 6-2 with runners on the corners. Anthony Rendon popped out and Juan Soto flew out.
With the season and championship on the line, the Astros came to bat with the top of their order — George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Michael Brantley — due up for Houston. Washington sent trade deadline acquisition Daniel Hudson to the mound. Springer led off the inning with a pop up to second. Altuve followed that up by striking out. Finally, Brantley strode up the plate and worked a 3-2 count before striking out, confirming the Nationals’ 6-2 victory.
Seven games. The home team lost them all. More often than not, the Astros were the home team.
And so, the Washington Nationals went from 19-31 to a Wild Card team ... and now, 2019 World Series champions.
They’re world champs for the first time ever.