By Logan Perrone
With their backs against the wall, the Washington Nationals stepped up to the plate with a crucial Game 6 victory at Minute Maid Park Tuesday night. The win marked the first time in the history of the major North American sports with a 2-3-2 championship format that the road team has won the first six of a series.
Both teams sent out their game two aces Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg for a rematch. Verlander, eyeing up his first World Series win, gave up a lone run in the first inning. Nats’ shortstop Trea Turner would come around to score on an Anthony Rendon double to the right side of the infield to beat the shift. Strasburg would have his share of first inning troubles, allowing two runs to cross the plate via a Jose Altuve sac-fly and an Alex Bregman solo shot to the left field porch.
Troubles would return for Verlander again in the fifth inning. Outfielders Adam Eaton and Juan Soto sent a missile and a moonshot, respectively, into the packed right field seats to grab the 3-2 lead. The three-four combo has completely owned the series, with the two players having combined for 14 hits and 13 RBIs.
In the seventh, a controversial interference call on Turner erased runners in scoring position with nobody out. A brief review in New York determined the play could not be challenged as it was a judgement call by Homeplate umpire Sam Holbrook, a call many analysts and fans claim, was incorrect. Nationals manager Dave Martinez would be ejected from the contest in between innings while arguing the call.
Moments prior to losing their skipper, however, did manage to get passed the blown call. All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon took a 91-MPH meatball from Will Harris and deposited it in the leftfield seats.
“It’s just a part of the game,” Redon said. “We just got to keep on going. No one’s going to feel sorry for us.”
The Nationals’ offense capped off a strong night in ninth, with Rendon bringing home Turner and Eaton on a two-run double, extending the Washington lead to five. Strasburg would get one out in the bottom half of the inning before Sean Doolittle recorded the final two, winning the game by a final of 7-2.
Strasburg absolutely dominated the Astros’ lineup Tuesday night, pitching eight and a third innings, allowing the two first inning runs on five hits while punching out seven in the process. The first overall 2009 draft pick threw well over a hundred pitches, dismissing speculation of an emergency relief appearance in game seven.
“I emptied the tank” Strasburg said. “It’s going to take all twenty-five of us.”
The series will now head to a decisive Game 7, the fifth since 2011 when the Cardinals beat Rangers four games to three. With so much history already made and at stake in this series, its only right that the baseball gods have granted baseball fans everywhere with a winner-take-all game.
If Houston wins, the core of talent that has seen a plethora of success in the last handful of years writes their story as one of the best runs in baseball history. A Washington victory would secure the franchise its first Commissioner’s Trophy and mark the first time a seven-game World Series did not feature a win by the home team.
To up the ante (and highlight even more firsts), tonight’s starting matchup will be the first game seven started by two former Cy Young Award winners. Zack Greinke, the 2009 AL winner is set to take the bump for Houston. Max Scherzer, the 2013 AL, 2016 NL, and 2017 NL winner will get the ball for Washington, despite his scratched game five start. First pitch is scheduled for an 8:07 p.m. ET start under the roof in Houston.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org