How the teams got there: The Washington Nationals were a surprise team to even be in the playoffs, with a record of 20-31 on May 24. The Nationals would gain a ton of momentum through the rest of the season and ended the regular season with a 93-69 record and home field advantage for the Wild Card game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Winning the Wild Card game– a clutch hit from Juan Soto in the 8th inning– and then the division round– a grand slam from Howie Kendrick late in game five– moved the team onto the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The divisional round win was a big accomplishment for the Nationals franchise because it was the first time they won a playoff series since they became the Washington Nationals in 1969. The Nationals went on to beat the Cardinals easily in four games, scoring 20 runs and only giving up six runs. With a sweep of the Cardinals, the Nationals were in the World Series.
The Houston Astros’ dominance was less surprising, coming into the season as one of the favorites to win the World Series because of their dominant starting pitching and a lineup full of power hitters. The Astros had the best record in the MLB going into the postseason and didn’t have to play in the Wild Card game. The Astros didn’t have an easy path to the World Series in the postseason with having to face the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays in the divisional series. It would take all five games for the Astros to beat the Rays, but the Astros still had to face another powerhouse team in the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series to reach the World Series. After six hard fought games the Astros beat the Yankees to advance to the World Series.
Game One: Both teams have amazing starting pitching, so it was no surprise when it was two former Cy Young award winners, Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals) and Gerrit Cole (Houston Astros), took the mound in Game One. The offense was prominent in this game though, with the Astros’ scoring two runs in the first inning and the Nationals scoring one in the second inning. The biggest at-bats though, was from the young star, Juan Soto who came up big for the Nationals going 4-5 at the plate and three RBIs. His teammate Ryan Zimmerman had praise for Soto in a postgame interview with ESPN saying, “It’s something you can’t teach… to be able to come on this big stage and have the at-bats he did have is something special.” Cole who had a .40 ERA in the postseason going into Game One, gave up five runs in his seven innings of pitching. Those five runs would be all the Nationals would need as they win a close one 5-4. Winning Game One was huge for the Nationals to set the tone in the series and to keep the momentum on their side.
Series Record: Nationals lead 1-0
Game Two: Another stellar starting pitching matchup was the headline again in Game Two, with Steven Strasburg (Washington Nationals) and Justin Verlander (Houston Astros) on the mound, both of them finalists for the Cy Young award this year. Both pitchers got off to a rocky start with both teams scoring two runs in the first inning. Strasburg would go on to to pitch six innings and only gave up two runs. Verlander on the other hand, was going well until the seventh inning where he gave up a homerun and walked a batter without getting an out before he was taken out of the game, the batter he walked would come into score making Verlander responsible for four runs. The Nationals’ bats came to life in the seventh scoring six runs and giving them a 8-2 lead. They would go on to score four more runs and only give up one in a blowout 12-3 win. “They gave us a kind of crack in the door and you just try to knock it down,” said Adam Eaton, Nationals outfielder, on gaining momentum through the game in a postgame interview. With a 2-0 series lead and the series going to D.C. the Nationals were in great position to win the World Series.
Series Record: Nationals lead 2-0
Game Three: The series travels to D.C. for Game Three with the Nationals looking to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series but the Astros aren’t going to go down without a fight. The pitching is another great matchup with Anibal Sanchez (Washington Nationals) and Zack Greinke (Houston Astros), but Greinke has been struggling this postseason with a 6.43 ERA this postseason. When it came time to play though both pitchers were on point compared to past games in this series, with Sanchez giving up three runs through five innings and Greinke only giving up one run. Micheal Brantley came up big for the Astros at the plate going 2-5 but making those two hits count driving in a run on both of them. Timely pitching was the story of this game with a combined 20 hits being recorded but only five runs score. “ We needed to win this one, it was no tomorrow for us,” said Houston Astros, Jose Altuve on this must win game in a postgame interview. Astros get their first win of the series with the final score being 4-1.
Series Record: Nationals lead 2-1
Game Four: The Astros look to turn momentum on their side and tie the series at two games apiece in Game Four. The Astros are at a disadvantage in the starting pitching game though with Jose Urquidy on the mound in his first career postseason start. The Nationals send Patrick Corbin on the mound who has been struggling for them this postseason with a 6.64 ERA this postseason. Urquidy’s inexperience did not show in the game though, pitching five innings and giving up zero runs and Corbin’s struggles continued as he pitched six innings and gave up four runs. The star for this game though was Alex Bregman for the Houston Astros, who went 3-5 at the plate with five RBIs, four of them coming from a grand slam he hit to put the game out of reach. The Astros win this game 8-1 and tie the series up at 2-2. This was a huge win for the Astros taking momentum away from the Nationals and forcing at least two more games which will send the series back to Houston.
Series Record: Tied 2-2
Game Five: After tying the series up, the Astros looked to continue to ride on their hot streak in Game Five. With Cole on the mound again for Houston, they have a good chance of continuing the hot streak, especially since the Nationals have Joe Ross pitching after the Nationals had to scratch Schrezer from the starting role because of neck pain. In this game, Cole looked a lot more like his usual self pitching seven innings and only gave up one run, while his counterpart, Ross, only pitched five innings and gave up four runs. The Astros offense though consisted of Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez, and George Springer, who went a total 6-10 and two walks at the plate and each of them had two RBIs. The Astros pitchers would go on to pitch another gem only giving up one run and four hits. The Astros win Game Five by a final score of 8-1 and take the series lead 3-2 going back home to Houston for Games Six and Seven.
Series Record: Houston leads 3-2
Game 6: With another pitching matchup of Verlander (Astros) and Strasburg (Nationals), the Astros try to miraculously win the World Series, after losing the first two games of the series at home. Both pitchers knew the high stakes of this game and came out rocky with a combined three runs being scored in the first inning. One of those runs came with some controversy, after hitting a home run, Alex Bregman on the Astros carried his bat with him to first base and dropped it when he reached the first base coach. Lots of people, including some Nationals players, were very upset about this because they saw it as showboating. Bregman later apologized for it after the game, saying, “It’s not how I was raised to play the game… I’m sorry for doing that,” in a postgame press conference. Juan Soto (National) liked Bregmans’ celebration and copied the celebration on his home run in the fifth inning, and that home run gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead. “I just thought it was pretty cool, I wanted to do it too,” said Soto on his celebration during a postgame press conference. The Nationals would continue to hit the ball hard scoring seven runs on just nine hits. The Nationals would go on to win the game by a score of 7-2 and tied the series at 3-3, forcing a Game Seven.
Series Record: 3-3
Game Seven: Some say it’s the two best words in sports– Game Seven. With both teams season on the line and the chance to win the World Series, the Astros put their trust in Greinke to pitch while the Nationals put their trust in Scherzer is back from his neck injury. Both pitchers understood the extreme pressure they were put in, and they delivered for their teams, with Greinke going six and one-third innings and giving up two runs, while Scherzer pitched five innings and gave up two runs too. After being down 2-0, the Nationals had a big seventh inning scoring three runs off of Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick home runs and taking 3-2 lead. The Nationals took that lead and never turned back scoring three more runs in the eighth and ninth innings, and with a 6-2 final score in Game Seven, the Nationals won the World Series. The Nationals who were underdogs going into the season win their first ever World Series. The World Series MVP was Steven Strasburg who said it was, “just surreal and to be able to do it with this group of guys was just something special,” in a postgame interview with ESPN.
Series Record: Nationals win 4-3