The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros, 6-2, in a winner-take-all Game 7 to capture their first World Series title in franchise history on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. The Nationals took the lead in the seventh inning thanks to homers from Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick and did not give it back. Washington got all four of its World Series wins on the road, and the 2019 Fall Classic marked the first time the visiting team won all seven games in a series in MLB postseason history.
In their first World Series appearance in the 51-year history of the franchise (including the team's time as the Montreal Expos), the Nationals took home the crown. The last MLB team to win the World Series in its first appearance was the 2002 Angels. The Nationals' path to a championship was simply a miraculous October run. After the first 50 games of the 2019 regular season, the Nats were 19-31 and in fourth place in the NL East. They went an MLB-best 74-38 for the rest of the regular season to earn the top NL wild card spot.
The Nationals became just the second team in MLB history to win the World Series after being 12 games under .500 during the regular season. The 1914 Braves are the only other team to achieve the feat.
Washington got past the Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game, defeated the top-seeded Dodgers in five games and swept the Cardinals in the NLCS before securing their World Series championship. They went unbeaten in all five of their elimination games (and they were trailing in each of them), and won every game on the road in the World Series.
For more on this game, here are our big takeaways.
Why the Nationals won
The Nationals continued their World Series trend of scoring runs late. Throughout the entire seven-game series, the Nats scored 12 runs in innings 1-6 while they crossed home plate 21 times in the seventh inning on. In Game 7, all of their six runs came in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The club's postseason motto quickly became, "Stay in the fight," and that's exactly what the Nationals did.
Nats ace Max Scherzer got the Game 7 start after he was scratched from his scheduled Game 5 outing due to neck and back spams. The three-time Cy Young winner . He fought through five innings, with the Astros threatening each time they were up at-bat. Scherzer's final line: 5 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 3 strikeouts, 4 walks. He threw 103 pitches (58 strikes). Lefty Patrick Corbin and right-hander Daniel Hudson combined for four scoreless innings to close out the win.
Why the Astros lost
Zack Greinke had a one-hitter going into the seventh inning. However, he gave up a out-out solo homer to Anthony Rendon in the seventh, and the Astros' starter was done for the night after issuing a walk to Juan Soto, the next batter. Astros manager AJ Hinch called on reliever Will Harris, and Howie Kendrick took him deep off the foul pole in right field for a two-run homer. The Nats later tacked on insurance runs in the eighth (Juan Soto's RBI single off Roberto Osuna) and ninth (Adam Eaton's two-RBI single off Jose Urquidy).
Meanwhile, the Astros scored their only two runs off Scherzer. First baseman Yuli Gurriel started the scoring with a solo home run to left field in the second inning, and Carlos Correa added an RBI single to double Houston's lead in the fifth. But the Astros went 1 for 10 in the game's final three innings, so without any answer to the Nats late rally, the 107-win team's season ended with a whimper.
It has to be the go-ahead home run fromHowie Kendrick. With the homer, the 36-year-old veteran became the first player in MLB history with multiple go-ahead home runs in the seventh inning or later of winner-take-all games in a single postseason.
"We won one. We finally won one." - Anibal Sanchez to Max Scherzer after the game, while celebrating together on field. The two starters were teammates together on the Tigers earlier this decade.
Well, we'll be without any MLB games for a while. But, the Nationals will get to look forward to hosting the first-ever World Series parade in Washington D.C. The other 29 teams will turn their attention to the offseason.
Our staff was with you the entire way, updating this post with highlights, analysis and more. You can relive Game 7 below.