The Washington Nationals are World Series champions for the first time in franchise history.
Behind Howie Kendrick’s dramatic go-ahead home run and gutsy pitching performances from Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, the Nationals rallied to defeat the Houston Astros 6-2 in the 40th Game 7 in World Series history.
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When the celebration goes down, Kendrick will be given a hero’s welcome. After playing that role in Washington’s NLDS Game 5 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kendrick was at it again in Game 7 of the World Series, launching an opposite home run off the foul pole that will now serve as the most iconic image in Nationals history.
The heroic moment was made possible by Scherzer, who three days after missing his Game 5 start with neck spasms, battled with less than this best stuff for five innings. He limited Houston to two runs despite allowing 11 baserunners. Patrick Corbin, who took the loss in Game 4, got redemption as well, pitching three innings of scoreless relief to earn the win.
On the Astros side, it was all about missed opportunities.
Houston opened the scoring on Yuli Gurriel’s second-inning home run and then tacked on one more run on Carlos Correa’s RBI double in the fifth. During that time, the Astros also left nine runners on base. That left the door open for Washington to rally, and sure enough, Washington rallied.
Anthony Rendon fired up the Nationals’ offense with a one-out home run in the seventh. After a walk to Juan Soto and a pitching change, Kendrick pulled off his elimination game magic again. Adam Eaton then sealed the win with a two-run single in the ninth inning.
With the victory, Washington survived its fifth straight elimination game during October, while also making this the first World Series where the road teams went 7-0.
WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE
• Howie Kendrick: Somehow, Kendrick provided a moment bigger than his extra-inning home run in Los Angeles. October is all about unexpected heroes. While Kendrick is an established and respected player, no one could have anticipated him having the two biggest hits in the postseason.
• Patrick Corbin: It was an up and down postseason for the Nationals big free-agent signing. He came through when manager Dave Martinez needed him most, pitching three scoreless innings of relief to bridge the gap to Daniel Hudson.
• Juan Soto: He’s 21 and he’s seemingly impossible to get out in clutch situations. Soto added to impressive postseason resume by reaching base three more times in Game 7. That included a walk ahead of Kendrick’s home run and a two-out run-scoring single in the eighth inning. According to MLB Stats on Twitter, Soto’s 13 postseason RBI are the most by a player before turning 22, passing Miguel Cabrera. As for the World Series:
Howie Kendrick is all about the big moments in October.
WHAT THEY’LL BE TALKING ABOUT
The Zack Greinke decision: DidAstros’ manager A.J. Hinch make the right call removing Greinke during the seventh inning? Before the Rendon home run, Greinke had looked untouchable. The walk to Soto may have been a sign he was fading, but with the move to Will Harris backfiring on the Kendrick home run, it’s a moment that will be second-guessed. As will the decision to never utilize Gerrit Cole in a do-or-die situation.
Where does this World Series rank all-time?: Does a series going seven games automatically make it a classic? The consensus coming into this Game 7 was that it does not. Though the series built nicely with more drama being added in each of the final three games, the early portion was void of much excitement. The low viewership numbers indicate that casual fans were never really hooked, so despite the strong finish, it’s not a World Series that’s likely to have left a long-lasting impression on a national scale. Not that Nationals fans’ do or should care about that.
It’s celebration time in Washington D.C.
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