Nationals win World Series: Howie Kendrick comes up clutch again in Game 7 with go-ahead homer

If it were supposed to happen, then it wouldn't have been a miracle. Miracles can't be routine, can't grow out of a state of assumption. 

And sure enough, no one assumes that the likes of Will Harris -- who pitched to a 1.50 ERA during the regular season -- will on his second pitch of Game 7 give up an opposite field home run to a right-handed batter for just the fourth time in his eight-year career and for the first time since April of 2017. Just as no one assumes that 36-year-old Howie Kendrick, with a grimly tidy 2019 World Series slash line of .227/.227/.227, will become the first player ever to hit multiple go-ahead home runs in the seventh inning or later of an elimination game. Yet, in defiance of that and so much more, that's precisely what happened. 

The Miracle at Minute Maid wouldn't have happened if Anthony Rendon hadn't halved the Astros lead with his solo home run off Zack Greinke earlier in that same inning. It wouldn't have happened if Greinke hadn't walked the ruthlessly patient Juan Soto, which brought Kendrick up as the potential go-ahead run and prompted Houston manager A.J. Hinch to go to Harris rather than let Greinke use his own platoon advantage against Kendrick. It probably wouldn't have happened if Hinch had instead summoned his Game 5 starter, Gerrit Cole, to breathe fire out of the pen.   

Happen, though, it did: 

That's a Harris cutter low and away. If Kendrick puts any more of an ambitious swing on it -- tries to pull it or lift it with more authority -- he probably whiffs or tops a weak grounder to the right inside. Instead, Kendrick dropped the bat head on it and got enough of it to ding the right field foul pole a mere 326 feet away. With it, Harris became the first pitcher since Ray Kremer in 1925 to allow home runs in Game 6 and Game 7 of the same World Series. Of the 106 home runs Kendrick has hit since 2010 -- regular season and postseason combined -- that's just the fourth one to come off a cutter. 

With that swing, Kendrick turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. With that swing, he took the Nationals' chances of winning Game 7 from 29.5 percent to 64.2 percent. Yes, the Nats padded the lead Kendrick gave them and wound up winning Game 7 6-2, but who can say how things unfurl if Kendrick didn't do what he did? His home run in that moment, in that game, took their season from likely disappointment to likely triumph. 

When it comes to one hit improving a team's chances of winning not only the game in question but also the championship, Kendrick's home run stands as one of the greatest ever. As Dan Hirsch notes on Twitter, Kendrick's seventh-inning hook shot is the 10th biggest hit in MLB history. Level it down to home runs, and Kendrick's is the fourth-biggest ever. Yes, it was one of the most important hits ever.

Did you see it happen? If you didn't, then act like you did. Howie Kendrick did something historic on Wednesday in Game 7, and you saw it. Didn't you? 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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