by Ben Jansen
The Fall Classic is underway in Major League Baseball. After a month of playoff baseball, the season comes down to two teams with the Washington Nationals representing the National League and the Houston Astros representing the American League.
The Astros came into the series as the heavy favorites, holding the best regular season record in baseball while the Nationals were forced to participate in the Wild Card game to even make the playoffs.
Game one of the series pitted two of the best pitchers in baseball against one another as Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer toed the rubber in Houston. Despite expecting dominance from the pitchers, it was the hitters who left their mark on the opening game.
Most notably, 20-year-old Juan Soto had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs. The veteran Ryan Zimmerman also added a homer for Washington off of Cole. The Astros made a late comeback, scoring runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but it was too little too late, handing the Cy Young favorite his first loss since May as the Nationals took the game by a score of 5-4.
Game two was just as close for the first six innings, as Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg were on the mound. After giving up two runs in the first inning each, the two pitchers settled down and didn’t allow another run until the seventh inning.
However, the seventh inning was where the floodgates opened, as the Nationals batted around, scoring six runs in the inning off of Verlander and reliever Ryan Pressly. After that the game was all but over, as the Nationals tacked on four more runs in the last two innings and cruised to a 12-3 victory, bringing a 2-0 series lead to Washington DC for the first World Series home game in franchise history.
The Astros had a stranglehold on game three, scoring early runs off of Nationals starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, as Michael Brantley lead the way batting 2-4 with 2 RBI. On the other side of things, the Astros got a much needed strong start from Zack Greinke who went 4.2 innings, allowing one run while striking out six Nationals hitters.
In the sixth inning, an unlikely hero stepped up for the Astros, as Robinson Chirinos put the nail in the coffin with a solo home run off the left field foul pole, as the bullpen shut down the Nationals on the way to a 4-1 victory.
The Astros stayed hot in game four, scoring two runs in the first inning off of Patrick Corbin, who started for the Nationals after pitching in relief in game one. Robinson Chirinos stayed hot, hitting another home run to extend the lead to 4-0. The Nationals looked like a comeback was in the works during the sixth inning, as they had the bases loaded but only managed to score one run.
In the seventh inning, Alex Bregman, an MVP candidate who had struggled throughout the World Series, stepped to the plate and announcer Joe Buck made the call that made Nationals fans sick to their stomach.
“High fly ball to left. This! Is! Gone! For a Grand Slam For Bregman.” As the Astros won the game 8-1, guaranteeing the series will head back to Houston.
“This game is a game of failure, and you’re gonna fail a heck of a lot more than you succeed in it,” Bregman said when asked about breaking out of his slump with the massive home run. “I think the feeling that I had when I hit that was I was pretty fired up.”
Now with the series tied at two games a piece a best of seven series has suddenly become best of three. With two games being played in Houston the Nationals are already at a disadvantage, and their luck got even worse as their ace Max Scherzer missed his scheduled game five start with back spasms.
“I’ve pitched through so much crap in my life, but today its literally impossible for me to do anything,” said Scherzer when asked about the injury. “I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed, I basically had to fall out of bed this morning.”
Now with the series all square and arguably the Nationals best player out for multiple games, the series has been turned upside down multiple times since the first pitch was thrown. With three games left to go, this could be a chaotic finish to one of the most exciting seasons of baseball in a long time.
Ben Jansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org