By Katherine Coble || News Editor
The Washington Nationals made franchise history late Wednesday evening, pulling off the first World Series win for their team since its move from Montreal, Quebec in 2005. It is also the first World Series win for a Washington, D.C. team since the Washington Senators (an unrelated franchise) won the title in 1924. They defeated the Houston Astros in Texas during a tense game seven, becoming the sixth consecutive World Series winners to complete their series win during an away game. Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals first pick in the 2009 MLB draft more than a decade ago, was named the World Series’ Most Valuable Player.
Few would have predicted the Nationals’ level of success at the beginning of the season. The team won just 19 of their first 50 games, struggling to adapt to the loss of their star hitter Bryce Harper to a division rival, the Philadelphia Phillies. At that time, few would have predicted the Nationals qualifying for the playoffs, let alone winning the World Series. But the Washington Nationals were able to rally. They rallied for the rest of the regular season to slip into a wild card slot, and eventually rallied their way into the World Series itself.
In more ways than one, the Nationals were the true underdogs of this World Series playoff season. They had the oldest regular-season roster, peppered with strong players in their 30s in a sport that seems to become younger and younger every season. They have stuck to their stereotype as a traditional team, shying away from new-fangled analytics. And they found themselves up against the formidable Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series champions and a team which has won at least 100 games in the past three regular seasons. Through grit, persistence, and perhaps some luck, the Washington Nationals were able to quiet the naysayers and fight their way to the championship.
This World Series was one in which home-field advantage seemed to matter very little – or, in fact, not at all. 2019 marks the first year that every single World Series game was won by the away team. The Nationals were able to deftly win the first two games of the series, leaving Houston emotionally and offensively stressed. But the Astros came back to defeat the Nationals on their home turf three games in a row. They entered game six with a 3-2 lead at Minute Maid Park in Houston, but the Nationals battled back to make the series tied. The World Series headed to game seven for the fortieth time in its MLB history.
Game seven started slow – a pitcher’s game. Both Zack Greinke of Houston and Max Scherzer of Washington pitched strong games, with the score stuck at 2-0 Houston after six innings. It was during the top of the seventh that Washington pulled ahead – beginning with a solo home run by Anthony Rendon and a two-run homer by Howie Kendrick shortly afterward. Rising star Juan Soto, who turned 21 just days before his World Series win, was able to propel the Nationals to a 4-2 lead. They sealed the deal in the ninth inning and took the series with a 6-2 win to the disappointment of the home crowd.
The win is sure to be remembered by the Washington Nationals – and all of their fans in the Nation’s Capital – for many years to come. As catcher Kurt Suzuki told The New York Times, “We couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
Senior Katherine Coble is the News Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.