The Washington Nationals celebrate after Game 7 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 6-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Washington Nationals celebrate after Game 7 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 6-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Nationals beat Astros 6-2 in Game 7 for first World Series title

Washington earned all four of its wins on the road

HOUSTON – Almost out of contention in May, champs in October.

Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon and the Washington Nationals completed their amazing comeback journey — fittingly with one final, late rally on the road.

In Game 7 of the World Series, no less.

Kendrick and Rendon homered in the seventh inning as the Nationals overcame a two-run deficit, rocking the Houston Astros 6-2 Wednesday night to claim the first title in franchise history.

With all eyes on Max Scherzer and his remarkable recovery after a painkilling injection, these Nationals truly embraced their shot in the first Series when the road team won every game.

Even more against the odds: Juan Soto and Washington rallied from behind to win five elimination games this post-season, an unprecedented feat.

Stephen Strasburg, who was named series MVP, Patrick Corbin and the Nats brought the first World Series championship to the nation’s capital since ol’ Walter Johnson delivered the crown for the Senators in 1924.

This franchise started out as the Montreal Expos in 1969 when the major leagues expanded beyond the border, putting a team with tricolour caps at jaunty Jarry Park. They moved to D.C. in 2005, ending Washington’s three-decade-plus wait for big league baseball after the Senators left town to become the Texas Rangers.

But the incredible path these wild-card Nationals with the curly W logo took, well, no one could have imagined.

Having lost star slugger Bryce Harper to free agency and beset by bullpen woes, Washington plummeted to 19-31 in late May. It got so bad there was talk around town the Nationals might fire manager Dave Martinez and trade away Scherzer.

Instead, they stuck with the motto that sprung up on T-shirts – Stay In The Fight.

And months later they finished it, indeed.

For the 43,326 revved-up fans at Minute Maid Park, it was a combination of shock and disappointment. So close to seeing the Astros win their second crown in three years, they watched their chance suddenly vanish as Houston fell apart.

Washington kept pulling away after taking the lead, with Adam Eaton’s two-run single in the ninth accounting for the final margin.

Zack Greinke was in complete control until Rendon — a Houston prep and college star — hit a home run that cut Houston’s lead to 2-1.

When Soto followed with a one-out walk, manager AJ Hinch decided to make a move. He’d had ace starter Gerrit Cole warming up in the bullpen earlier, but this call was for Will Harris.

Kendrick connected on the second pitch, slicing a drive that hit the screen attached to the right field foul pole. Just like that, everything had changed for the team in orange that led the majors in wins, and the ballpark fell silent.

For Kendrick, another timely blow. At 36, playing on the oldest team in the majors, the journeyman earned the MVP award for the NL Championship Series against St. Louis after hitting the winning grand slam in the 10th inning of the deciding Game 5 of the Division Series at Dodger Stadium.

Then again, this was nothing new for the Nationals.

Washington rallied in the eighth to beat Milwaukee in the wild-card game and took the last two to beat Los Angeles in the NLDS, setting up a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS.

Far away, a big crowd poured into Nationals Park for a watch party. That was the stadium where Houston hammered the Nats for three games last weekend, but their luck changed in Texas.

This World Series had lacked a lot of drama, aside from a volatile call of interference in Washington’s Game 6 win that stoked heated debate across the sports world. Who knew rule 5.09(a)(11) could stir such passion?

With Greinke and Scherzer grunting on every pitch, Game 7 was a classic duel from the start.

Yuli Gurriel put the Astros ahead with a home run in the second and Carlos Correa added an RBI single off Scherzer that made it 2-0 in the fifth.

Scherzer was done after the fifth, but he had done his job to keep it close. Only a few days earlier, the three-time Cy Young Award winner had been unable to lift his right arm because of nerve irritation near his neck.

Daniel Hudson closed it out for the Nationals, who made Houston pay for stranding so many runners on base all game. Hudson struck out Michael Brantley for the last out, then threw his glove to start the celebration.

READ MORE: Trump draws boos when introduced to crowd at World Series

For the Astros, who brought baseball into the Space Age with their far-out Astrodome and AstroTurf, and helped zoom the game into the galaxy of the Analytics Era, it was a startling end.

Houston shares a spring training complex in Florida with the Nationals and reported to camp in February full of high hopes.

The Astros breezed to the AL West title, edged Tampa Bay in a five-game ALDS and topped the Yankees in the ALCS. They played through front-office fiasco, which led to the firing of an executive for a boorish rant at female reporters during a clubhouse celebration.

UP NEXT

The Astros and Nationals start training side-by-side in a few months and open exhibition play with a World Series rematch on Feb. 22 at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. They met in their Grapefruit League opener this year and Scherzer gave up a home run to the first batter of the game.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

MLB

Just Posted

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

People had a chance to interact with different animals at the petting zoo, participate in mutton busting, and buy everything local during the Fall Fair held in 2019. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
55th Fall Fair in Vanderhoof cancelled

Alternative events eyed once again

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Athena and Venus, ready to ride. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Goggling double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to B.C. commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
B.C. casino workers laid off during pandemic launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed in Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo against Great Canadian Gaming

A Photo from Sept. 2020, when First Nations and wild salmon advocates took to the streets in Campbell River to protest against open-pen fish farms in B.C.’s waters. On Dec. 17, federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan announced her decision to phase out 19 fish farms from Discovery Islands. Cermaq’s application to extend leases and transfer smolts was denied. (Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror)
Feds deny B.C.’s Discovery Island fish farm application to restock

Transfer of 1.5 million juvenile salmon, licence extension denied as farms phased out

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

FILE – Nurse Iciar Bercian prepares a shot at a vaccine clinic for the homeless in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
B.C. scientists to study effectiveness of COVID vaccines in people with HIV

People living with HIV often require higher doses of other vaccines

A 50-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle Tuesday, June 15, crashing through a West Vancouver school fence that surrounds playing children. (West Vancouver Police)
Driver ticketed for speeding near B.C. school crashes into playground fence days later

‘It’s an absolute miracle that nobody was injured,’ says Const. Kevin Goodmurphy

Dr. Réka Gustafson, who is British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer, speaks during a news conference in Vancouver on April 8, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. public health officials prepare to manage COVID-19 differently in the future

Flu-like? Health officials anticipate shift from pandemic to communicable disease control strategies

Most Read