In a game that featured questionable calls, dominant pitching, and an ejection, the Washington Nationals force a Game 7 that will decide a World Series champion.
We had to have seen it all by now, right?
The first call of the game is reviewed. A hit against the shift scores the first run of the game. Bat carrying to first base (twice). Runner’s interference. Talks of a protest. An ejection. A near-complete game.
The Nationals repeated what they did in Game 2 against Astros starter Justin Verlander: score in the first inning. Trea Turner began the first with a groundout that would be overturned, ruling him safe. He moved to second on center fielder Adam Eaton’s sacrifice bunt and scored on third baseman Anthony Rendon’s single.
Houston answered right back in the bottom half, starting with a George Springer double. He would score on a sacrifice fly from Jose Altuve. The Astros then captured the lead when Alex Bregman hit a no-doubt home run to left field, and he carried his bat with him to first base (this comes into play later).
For three innings, it seemed that the Nationals were not going to get anything going, failing twice to capitalize with runners on first and second. Adam Eaton changed that.
He took a pitch from Verlander in the fifth inning over the wall to tie the game at two. The Nationals had cracked Verlander. The momentum carried two batters later to young phenom Juan Soto, who blasted another pitch from the Astros’ veteran starter to the second deck in right field … and he took his bat with him as he trotted down the first base line, similar to Bregman in the first inning.
Verlander was pulled after five innings pitched. He would finish with only three strikeouts in what was really a well-pitched game from him, aside from the two home runs and first inning trouble.
The top of the seventh inning was when things got weird. Nationals catcher Yan Gomes led off with a single. This would bring up Turner.
Turner swung at a pitch that was fielded to the right of the pitcher and thrown toward first base. The throw was heading outside of the bag, which would have been through the runner’s lane and up the right-field line.
Outstretched first baseman Yuli Gurriel held his glove in the runner’s lane to catch the thrown ball just as Turner was reaching the same spot, about one or two steps from touching the bag. Turner’s left pocket would knock Gurriel’s glove off and the ball was sent rolling up the right-field line, allowing Turner to reach second and Gomes to third.
However, the umpires ruled the play runner’s interference, resulting in Turner being out and Gomes remaining at first. The rule was eventually was reviewed to no reversal, and Nationals manager Dave Martinez, along with Turner and most of the Nationals’ bench, was fuming.
After things seemingly settled down, Anthony Rendon finally broke through and hit a two-run home run to extend the Nationals lead to 5-2.
Between innings, Martinez went out to give the umpires more of his thoughts on the controversial Turner-interference play. He would be restrained by several Nats coaches to no avail. Martinez was ejected, the first time a manager has been ejected in a World Series since Bobby Cox in the 1996 Fall Classic.
In the ninth, Rendon came through again, this time with a two-run double to put the game at 7-2. Rendon had a marquee game, going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and five RBI. This is what the Nationals have been needing from their star.
You could really make a case, though, for Stephen Strasburg having the best performance of the night. Strasburg went 8 ? innings pitched with seven strikeouts, two walks, five hits and two runs allowed. Three of those hits were for extra bases, meaning this Astros team that had scored 19 runs over the three games in D.C. left their contact-hitting bats in the nation’s capital.
Nationals closer Sean Doolittle would get Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos to pop-out to second base with a runner on second to end the game. There will be a Game 7.
Washington looked really complete in Game 6. Their offense banged out nine hits, four of which were for extra bases. They drew three walks, one hit by pitch, and left only six on base. The pitching from Strasburg kept one of the most potent offenses in baseball relatively quiet.
Houston is still dangerous, though. Nearly any of their hitters can drive a pitch over the fence or in the gap. Their bullpen can be lock-down when any one of them brings their stuff.
The road team has won all six games in the series so far, a feat never done before in World Series history. It is quite remarkable, but it must be said that the Astros went 60-21 at home in the regular season but are 5-4 at home this postseason. Washington went 43-38 on the road in the regular season and is 7-1 on the road this postseason.
There have been three Game 7’s in the last five years, with the fourth one coming tonight in Houston. The Washington Nationals are going with their ace Max Scherzer in the biggest game in the history of their franchise. The Houston Astros will go with the right-hander they acquired at the trade deadline to secure their second World Series title in three years. Can the Nationals secure their first World Series in 95 years? Or will the Astros cement their names alongside other legendary teams after three consecutive 100-win seasons?