For the first time in World Series history, the away team won every single game after the Washington Nationals came from behind to take a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros in Wednesday night’s Game 7 to clinch the franchise’s first World Series title.
Across all best-of-seven series in the MLB, NBA and NHL, it was the first time the away team emerged victorious every time with the Nationals rattling off wins in their final eight road games to get there, matching a record set by the 1996 New York Yankees.
Another record was set when the first pitch was thrown by Zack Greinke who opposed Max Scherzer in the first World Series matchup that featured a pair of Cy Young Award-winning pitchers, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Both pitchers settled into the biggest game of their years with Scherzer allowing singular runs to score in the second (Yuli Gurriel home run) and the fifth (Carlos Correa single to score Gurriel) while compiling three strikeouts and allowing seven total hits.
Greinke cruised through the Nationals’ lineup for six scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and striking out three in an effort his catcher thought he’d surely complete on his own.
“I thought he was going to go for a complete game the way he was pitching, his pitch count was low, he was hitting his spots,” Robinson Chirinos said. “I told (Martin) Maldonado this is the best I’ve seen him since we pitched in Seattle in late September, everything was working.”
But after he retired Adam Eaton to start the seventh, Houston native and Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon lifted a solo home run to cut the Astros’ 2-0 lead in half and the energy inside Minute Maid Park seemed to dissipate a bit.
A walk to Juan Soto signaled the end of Greinke’s night in favor of Will Harris who was immediately greeted by Howie Kendrick who blasted a line drive off the right-field foul pole to snatch a 3-2 lead with the Nationals down to their last eight outs of regulation.
The momentum fully swung to the visitors' side with their cheers sounding just as loud as the deafening silence from Astros fans.
Kendrick’s blast made him not only the first designated hitter to register a go-ahead homer in Game 7 of a World Series but he was also the third-oldest to do so, trailing only Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.
From there, Soto added an insurance run for Washington in the eighth and Adam Eaton drove in a pair with a ninth-inning hit to round the final score out to 6-2 to win its fifth elimination game this postseason although the team trailed in all of them.
On the other end of the spectrum in the clubhouse that wasn’t celebrating a win, George Springer ensured that there was still plenty for the Houston team to hang its hats on.
“This is a special group and by today’s standards you only measure success with championships and this team still has plenty to hold its head high about,” he said.
Impending free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole, who threw in the bullpen and would have been ready to go if his number was called but never had the situation arise, was asked to answer reporters’ questions and asked if he still had to even though he was unemployed and only representing himself but still obliged.
“We went over the game plan and laid out the most advantageous times to use me,” he said. Astros manager AJ Hinch planned on using him only if Houston had a lead and that would have meant Cole got the ninth.
Still, he talked about the relationships he built while having some fun in the win column.
“I made a lot of good friendships, learned a lot about pitching from teammates, from pitching coaches and staff, learned a lot more about the game from AJ,” he said. “I think the group is just so unique and I know I made some friends from this clubhouse I’ll have the rest of my life and winning a lot is always fun.”
The 2020 season will kick off with a World Series rematch in the first spring training action at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in February.