HOUSTON – The Astros were well on their way to a Game 7 win. The champagne was chilling and the sellout crowd of 43,326 was ready to party and celebrate Houston’s second World Series title.
Zack Greinke was spectacular in his start going for just over six innings and allowing only two hits and two runs on 80 pitches.
All was good, but then the wheels came off quickly as the Nationals erased a 2-0 Astros lead.
How did things unravel so quickly for the Astros?
Zack Greinke was in cruise control
Greinke did his job on the big stage of a Game 7. He was cruising all night allowing just an early single in the second inning from Juan Soto and managed to keep his pitch count low. Through six innings, Greinke and the Astros were on cruise control.
Nationals offense strikes in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings
The inning began on an Adam Eaton ground ball out induced by Greinke. Then came his first mistake pitch of the night to Houston native Anthony Rendon, who delivered in both Games 6 and 7 when the Nationals needed him most. Rendon’s blast to left gave new life to the Nats, and they cut the Astros lead to 2-1. After that spark, then came a walk to Juan Soto.
Greinke’s night was then done and it was time for manager A.J. Hinch to call on his bullpen. His first nod went to Will Harris, but it did not go well. Howie Kendrick took Harris out of the park with a two-run homer off the right field foul pole that gave Washington its first lead of the night at 3-2.
A three-run seventh inning was then followed by another Nationals run in the eighth when Soto delivered an RBI single that scored Adam Eaton and push the Nats lead to 4-2.
In the ninth, Washington added more insurance on an Eaton RBI single that scored both Victor Robles and Yan Gomes. By then it was 6-2 and the Minute Maid Park crowd was silenced and the Astros were out of time.
The Nationals bullpen seals the deal and ends the Astros season
Shellshocked by the Nationals comeback, the Astros bats went silent down the stretch. In the bottom of the ninth, they went down in order as Springer, Altuve and Brantley couldn’t get anything going. The season ended on a Brantley strikeout and the World Series was officially over.
Time to look ahead to 2020
The Astros, winners of 107 games during the season, now could only sit and watch from the dugout as another team celebrated on their home field. It was the Red Sox last year in the ALCS and Wednesday night it was the Nationals winning the title.
The offseason begins now, and soon they will look ahead to the 2020 season. The team will mostly return but the one question that will be the talking point of the winter will be the future of Gerrit Cole, who likely will have a new home in the Spring as he enters free agency as the top pitching target in Major League baseball.