All good things must come to an end and that’s true of the MLB season, as well. The fairy-tale ending of this championship competition was certainly not what anyone had anticipated, but which the Washington Nationals worked hard to secure. It came down to the wire with a Game 7 showdown, and the Houston Astros could only hang their heads as the Nationals picked up their first-ever World Series championship. An incredible feat, given that an appearance in the finals was almost out of the realm of possibility this past May.
The last time the nation’s capital saw a World Series win was in 1924, when the local team was known as the Senators. The Nats got off to a 2-0 start this time around and, suddenly, the Astros weren’t looking so hot. The team from the Lone Star State would rally, though, taking the next three games. This forced a sixth, which the Nats easily won, and led to the nail-biting, hair-pulling showdown that caused gamblers to tremble in fear with Game 7.
The Astros were the decided favorite with good reason. They have had the best home performance in MLB for two years running, racking up a 60-21 record. Seeing the championship playoffs start on their own turf, there had been little doubt ahead of the Series that they would win. However, the Nationals had other plans.
Digging in from the start, the Nats were never afraid of losing and showed great confidence on the diamond. This culminated in a stellar do-or-die presence in Game 7 and Howie Kendrick continued to show the talent he demonstrated throughout the entire competition. A two-run homer off the right foul pole in the seventh allowed his team to take a 3-2 lead before the Nationals extended their lead to finally secure the 6-2 victory.
Kendrick didn’t do it all himself, of course. The Nationals saw their first run of the game come earlier in the same inning when Anthony Rendon connected off a Zack Greinke pitch for a solo homer. That set the pace and raised the energy level of the entire Nationals team, and they made sure they capitalized on it. Kendrick’s smash to give the team the lead would come just minutes later, and the Astros were suddenly feeling a little sheepish. Juan Soto, the prodigal baseball savant, added an RBI single in the eighth and a two-run single in the ninth by Adam Eaton had the Astros against the wall.
This series had a couple of firsts. It was the first time that the road team had won all seven games and the first time in 40 years that a home run forced a lead change in a World Series Game 7. It’s also the first time in five years that a wild-card team went on to take the trophy.
“We’re all living the dream.” With those simple words, Juan Soto, who rounded the bases on Kendrick’s home run, said it all.
The Astros took the loss in stride – relatively speaking. Pitcher Gerrit Cole, ready to become a free agent, made sure everyone knew he is available, telling reporters after the game that he was “not an employee of the team” as he sported a baseball cap with the logo of his agent, Boras Corp.
George Springer was a little more easy-going. He said, “Yeah, the ultimate goal is to win the World Series, and we fell short to a great team. You can’t hang your head low about that. You move on and start getting ready for Spring Training.”
That plan is already in motion and the oddsmakers are already beginning to talk. They’re calling the win by the Nationals a fluke and put the team at 14-1 to win next year’s World Series. The Astros, however, are seen as having a better chance and are 4-1 to overcome this year’s defeat and win the trophy.