Column: Wild and Wylie
The Houston Astros grinded throughout the 2019 season, winning 107 games and securing home field advantage over the Washington Nationals in the World Series. But it turns out playing home games is the last thing either team wants to do in this year’s Fall Classic.
Through the first five games of the Fall Classic, neither the Astros nor the Nationals have won a home game. This is only the third time in MLB history, and the first since 2006, that the road team has gone 5-0. The away team has never won six World Series games.
The Nationals dominated the Astros in the first two games in Houston, with aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasberg shutting down the lethal Astros lineup, limiting them to four and three runs respectively.
But the Astros responded over the weekend, winning all three games in Washington Friday through Sunday. Houston averaged more than six runs per game in their three wins and found a bit of luck when back seizures prevented Scherzer from taking the mound against them in Game 5.
The Astros will put the ball back in the hands of their best pitcher Justin Verlander Tuesday, Oct. 29, who will look to revenge his loss in Game 2. A win for Houston would see them win their second World Series in the past three years. A loss would bring up the two greatest words in the history of sports: “Game 7.”
The best case for the Astros winning Tuesday is if Verlander dominates the Nationals lineup that has struggled against Houston in the past three games. If the series does go to seven games, the Astros will likely bring all hands on deck, with Gerrit Cole and possibly Verlander coming out of the bullpen to back up probable starter Zack Greinke.
The Nationals will hope that Strasburg finds a way to limit Houston offensively while Washington’s bats find some life. In its three games at home, Washington scored just one run per game, and that won’t be good enough to extend the series to the limit. If Strasburg and the Nationals offense does their job, Washington can hope Scherzer, who is considered day to day with his back spasms, will be healthy enough to start Game 7.
While the thought of a Game 7 with Cole, Verlander, Strasburg and Scherzer all available to pitch is a mouthwatering fantasy for baseball fans, the Nationals will need to show more resiliency than they have all season. That is saying something for a team who had a 19-31 record in May before surging into the playoffs all the way to the World Series.
Washington will have its backs to the wall Tuesday night facing Verlander. An experienced postseason pitcher and one of the best in the game, Verlander will look to close out the Nationals in front of Houston’s home fans. The lifeless Nationals bats don’t seem to be much of a roadblock at the moment.
Unless the Nationals find the offensive magic they’ve been missing over the weekend, Houston will be crowned World Series champions Tuesday night. If the series is decided in Game 7 on Wednesday, both teams will open up their bullpens to some of the best starting pitchers in the game, and if Scherzer takes the mound, he could provide one of the most heroic efforts in baseball history to secure a win for the Nationals.
Editor’s pick: Houston wins Game 6 and the World Series with a score of 6-2.