Nationals take game 7 to win the World Series
By Steve Kallas
In the first World Series ever where every game was won by the road team, the Washington Nationals, who started the 2019 season at 19-31, shocked the world in Game 7 (their fifth facing-elimination game in this postseason) by coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win, 6-2.
While Stephen Strasburg (who started and won games 2 and 6) won the MVP (more on this later), it was one of those total team efforts highlighted, in this writer’s opinion, by the play of Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick.
And the most important three innings in the career of Patrick Corbin.
HOW DID THEY DO IT?
Well, all teams will tell you that “we never give up” or “we always play to the final out” or “we don’t get worried when we get behind” or something like that. But this Nationals team really practiced what they preached. From coming from behind in the Wild Card Game against the Brewers to score three in the eighth to win 4-3, to coming back from being down 2-1 in games against the unbeatable Dodgers (Howie Kendrick’s grand slam in the 10th inning on the road to win the NLDS), right through last night’s Game 7 comeback, the Nationals did things throughout their postseason run that were simply hard to believe.
SO, WHAT HAPPENED IN GAME 7?
The home team Astros took a 2-0 lead but the Nationals chipped away with a Rendon home run in the top of the 7th against Zach Greinke, who had pitched incredibly well up to this point. When Greinke walked superstar-in-the-making (at 21 years old), Juan Soto, Astros manager AJ Hinch brought in reliever Will Harris.
While that move has been criticized by many, the reality is that Harris threw an excellent pitch (down and away at 91 mph, literally on the lower left-hand corner of the strike zone “box” that Fox puts on the screen) to Kendrick who, with an incredible piece of hitting, hit the ball right down the line in right field, hitting the foul (fair?) pole screen for the go-ahead home run.
The Nationals never looked back.
In the top of the 8th inning, Soto singled in a huge run to make it 4-2 and, in the top of the 9th inning, Eaton singled in two more to pretty much put it out of reach at 6-2.
WAS PATRICK CORBIN THE MVP OF GAME 7?
That might be a bit of a stretch, but one can certainly make a case for him. Down 2-0, Max Scherzer (after getting a cortisone shot in his neck that caused him to miss his start in Game 5) pitched well, but was on the short end of the 2-0 score when he left the game. Patrick Corbin, who hadn’t been quite the pitcher the Nationals had hoped for (including this postseason) when they signed him for a boatload of money (six years, $140 million), came into the game in the bottom of the sixth and pitched like a star.
He faced 10 batters in three innings, recording nine outs without giving up a run. That set the stage for the heroics of Rendon, Kendrick and Soto. With Corbin in the game, the Nationals went from a 2-0 deficit to a 6-2 lead. He certainly deserved the win.
And Daniel Hudson came in to close it out in the ninth inning, striking out Astros’ stars Jose Altuve and professional hitter Michael Brantley to clinch the World Series for the Washington Nationals.
WAS STEPHEN STRASBURG REALLY THE MVP?
You can certainly make a good case for Strasburg. He pitched 14.1 innings, giving up only 12 hits and four runs while striking out fourteen and only walking three. He won both of his starts.
Once upon a time, when pitchers worked on three days (rather than today’s four days) of rest, a starter could start three games in a World Series. If a pitcher started and won three of the four victories, he usually would deserve the MVP. As one example, Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers (and not Denny McClain, who was 31-6 that year) won three games in the 1968 World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals and deservedly got the MVP.
This writer thinks it’s a little different when a pitcher is on the bench for half of the victories in a World Series.
JUAN SOTO FOR MVP?
Soto was awesome in the World Series. In Game 7, he drew a walk right before the Kendrick home run that gave the Nationals the lead. In the next inning, he singled in a huge insurance run to make it 4-2.
Overall in the Series, he had some staggering statistics. He batted .333 (9-27, the most hits on his team), with an on-base percentage of .438 and a slugging percentage of .741 for an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.179. These are video game numbers.
Soto, who was 20 when the Series started and 21 when it ended, also became the youngest player in baseball history to hit at least three home runs in a World Series, while leading his team in that department as well.
Not to quibble with the selection of Strasburg, but Juan Soto could easily have been the MVP.
DID GEORGE SPRINGER LOSE THE WORLD SERIES FOR THE ASTROS?
No, he didn’t. But his baserunning blunder in Game 1, where, if he had run hard out of the box late in the game when the Astros were down two runs and he was the tying run, was a mistake for the ages. Coupled with that weird post-game comment (paraphrasing, sometimes you don’t want to run as hard as you can) where he intimated that he might have run by a runner who was tagging up at second, it was a negative play for the ages.
If Springer, a bona-fide star, had run hard, he might very well have tied up the game (had he been on third base, as he should have, he would have scored on Altuve’s fly out to right). Of course, you never know what would have happened had he been on third but, if he tied up the game, the Astros would have had a chance to win Game 1 and the numbers are now, of the last 32 World Series, the team that wins Game 1 is 26-6.
While Springer reportedly called his manager after the game because he was so upset about the play, the reality is you run hard on anything. The new disease in baseball is to watch to see if you hit a home run. How it’s become accepted in baseball is beyond this writer’s knowledge of baseball.
Whatever you think of it, it cost the Astros in Game 1.
All credit to the Nationals. Dave Martinez, who many said should have been fired early in the season, gets an award of his own: the second Puerto Rican manager (after Alex Cora) to win the World Series. Martinez, who had a heart issue about six weeks ago, stayed calm (except when he got thrown out of the game in Game 6 for arguing that ridiculous interference call against his team), stayed the course and led his team to victory.
He, and the Nationals, richly deserved it.
© COPYRIGHT 2019 • BY STEVE KALLAS • ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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