Underdog Washington Nationals strikes out the Astros in the World Series

The 2019 World Series included the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. The Nats closed out the World Series 5-4.

Harrison Linden

The 2019 World Series included the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. The Nats closed out the World Series 5-4.

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The World Series was filled with surprises and jaw-dropping moments this year. The popular championship series came down to the expected powerhouse in the American Leagues: The Houston Astros. They ended the season with 107 wins and 55 losses. The underdog team was the National Leagues wildcard winner the Washington Nationals, who ended the regular season with 93 wins and 69 losses.

Game one of the World Series was one of the most exciting, resulting in a 5-4 win for the Nationals. Both teams started their ace pitchers, Max Scherzer for the Nationals, and Gerrit Cole for the Astros. Scherzer has always been viewed as one of the best pitchers in the league with a 2.92 ERA this year, he is in contention to win the Cy Young Award, which is given to the best pitcher in each league. Scherzer is now 35 years old and playing in his 11th year of pitching. 

Gerrit Cole has had an amazing season with a 2.50 ERA, winning 19 games in a row until the first game of the series. The game got off to a quick start as the Astros scored two runs off a Yuli Gurriel double in the first inning. Although Minute Maid Park was rumbling with the Astros fans screaming, the Nationals silenced the stadium with first baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s long home run to center field. The Astros were on top making the score 2-1. 

Juan Soto tied up the game in the fourth inning for the Nationals with a home run of his own. Tensions were high for the Astros as they gave up three runs in the fifth inning from an Adam Eaton single and a Juan Soto double, this put the Nationals up 5-2. With Astros fans losing hope, George Springer gave the team some excitement with a 428-foot homerun off Tanner Rainey, and shortly after, Springer put the Astros within one run with a double in the eighth inning. The Astros were within striking distance late in the game, but with great pitching from reliever Sean Doolittle, the Nationals snuck out a close game 5-4.

Game two was a lot different than the first game. The Astros were down one game to zero in the best of seven series, and they used one of their best pitchers in Justin Verlander, who had a 2.58 ERA over the course of the season. The Nationals used their other ace pitcher in Stephen Strasburg, who had a 3.32 ERA in the regular season. The game had a quick start as Anthony Rondon doubled to left field and had two runs scored. 

The Astros answered quickly as Alex Bregman hit a 411 foot home run and two runs scored to tie the game. After the first inning, the game became a pitching battle between Verlander and Strasburg until an unlikely Kurt Suzuki hit a home run. This is where the Astros fell apart as they gave up six runs in the seventh inning. Both Josh James and Chris Devinski gave up home runs late into the game for the Astros from Adam Eaton and Michael Taylor. 

The Astros fans did have a glimpse of hope in the 9th inning with a booming home run from Martin Maldonado. Ultimately, it was not enough as the Astros lost the game 12-3. They were down two games to zero in the series and heading to Washington for game three.

Game three went to Nationals Park in Washington D.C. This game had a much different story to it for the Astros as they needed this win to stay in the series and not go down three games to zero. The Astros used their recent addition, Zack Greinke as their starting pitcher. Greinke had a 2.90 ERA over the course of the regular season. Greinke faced off against the Nationals Aníbal Sánchez who had a higher ERA than most of the pitchers in the series at 3.85. 

The action started in the second inning as singled Josh Reddick singled scoring one run for the Astros. They kept the pressure on the Nats, as Michael Brantley hit an infield single in the third inning. The Nats finally off Greinke with a Victor Robles triple to make the score two to one with the Astros on top. Michael Brantley hit a single in the fifth inning to drive in his second RBI of the game. Robinson Chirinos homered in the sixth inning and the Astros ended up winning the game 4-1. The real story of the game was the offensive struggles for the Nationals as they left ten runners on base throughout the course of the game.

Game four was another must-win game for the Astros as they were down two games to one in the series. The starting pitcher for the Astros was Jose Urquidy, their one young starter on the roster at 24 years old, who had a 3.95 ERA in the regular season. He went against the Nationals Patrick Corbin who had a 3.25 ERA in the regular season. 

The runs went up on the board once again as Alex Bregman singled. Yuli Gurriel also hit a single in the infield to put the Astros up two runs to zero at the end of the first inning. Robinson Chirinos made the game more difficult for the Nats with a two-run home run to go up to four runs to zero in the fourth inning. The Nationals fans finally had some hope with a Juan Soto groundout to score one run. The Nats ran out of luck when Alex Bregman hit a grand slam in the seventh inning. Ultimately, the Astros won the game and tied up the series.

The pivotal game five was next and it would be an important game to win. The Astros started their ace pitcher Gerrit Cole once again. The Nationals started an unlikely candidate in Joe Ross who only pitched 64 innings in the regular season and had a high ERA of 5.48. Max Scherzer was the originally listed starter for game five, however, it was later revealed that he was dealing with a slight neck injury. 

The early scoring continued with a two home run in the second inning from the bat of Yordan Alvarez. The Astros struck again with a Carlos Corea two-run home run in the fourth inning. Juan Soto hit a home run in the seventh inning to bring the Nationals within three runs, but the Astros kept putting more runs on the board as Yuli Gurriel singled to make the game 5-1 in the eighth inning. The Astros gave the Nats no chance of a comeback with a George Springer 435 foot home run in the ninth inning and the Nationals fell to the Astros for a third straight game.

Game six was a must-win situation for the Nationals. They headed back to Minute Maid Park in Houston. Both teams started the same pitchers from game two, as the Nationals used Stephen Strasburg and the Astros’ starter, Justin Verlander. Anthony Rendon started the game off with a single and a run scored in the first. The Astros came right back with a sacrifice fly from Jose Altuve, and then a home run from Alex Bregman. They put the Astros up two runs to one at the end of the first inning. The game became a pitching battle. There were no runs scored from the second inning through the fourth inning. The Nationals broke the great pitching up with an Adam Eaton home run. Shortly after, a deep home run from Juan Soto to go up three runs to two. 

One of the most controversial calls of the series came in the seventh inning as Trea Turner hit a ball that rolled down the third baseline. He was called out for interfering with the first baseman and not running on the outside of the basepath. With the possibility of having runners on second and third base, the call made a runner on first base with one out. Anthony Rondon quieted the crowd a home run after the controversial call. Pitcher Stephen Strasburg continued his dominance throughout the game pitching over eight innings and giving up only three hits after the first inning. Anthony Rendon made it hard for the Astros to muster up a comeback as he doubled in the ninth inning with two runs scoring, this made the score seven runs to two with the Nats on top. The Nationals ended up winning the elimination game to force a game seven in Houston.

The seventh and final game of the series featured starting pitcher Zack Greinke, who won game three, and Max Scherzer, the winning pitcher of game one. Scherzer was coming back from the previous neck injury that made him unable to start game five. The Astros started the game off with a homerun coming from Yuli Gurriel in the second inning. A pitchers duel ensued for a few innings with Greinke putting on a great defensive performance. 

In the fifth inning, Carlos Correa scored with a single to put the Astros up two runs to zero. Greinke had only given up one hit until the seventh inning, but the Nationals got their second hit of the game with an Anthony Rendon homer. Houston made a questionable pitching change to bring Will Harris into the game. The Astros crowd was suddenly silenced, as, after the Rendon home run, the unthinkable happened to Houston. Howie Kendrick hit a home run off the foul pole to put the Nats up three to two. 

Patrick Corbin came in as a relief pitcher for the Nats and thrived in the pressure-filled position. Juan Soto gave the Nationals another run with a single in the eighth inning. Adam Eaton gave the Nats the insurance runs they needed in a single that scored two runs. The Nationals were now up to six to two in the ninth inning. Daniel Hudson closed the game for the Nats, and with a swing and a miss from Michael Brantley, The Nationals won the World Series.

This is the first World Series that the Nationals have won in Franchise history. The Nationals franchise dates back to 1969 when they were known as the Montreal Expos. This was the first championship brought to the city since the Washington Senators won in the 1924 series. 

The road team won every single game in a playoff series which was the first time this had happened. This feat seems almost impossible for a team. Stephen Strasburg won the Willie Mays Trophy for the World Series MVP. From having 19 wins and 31 losses, to being the world champs of baseball, this is one of the greatest runs for a World Series winner in recent history.