Nationals top Astros in Game 7 to win 1st World Series title
HOUSTON — Stephen Strasburg paraded the MVP trophy for delirious fans packed behind the dugout. Max Scherzer tearfully hugged his teammates. Gerardo Parra did the Baby Shark chop, Sean Doolittle flapped snow angels next to the mound.
Almost out of contention in May, champs in October.
Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon and the Washington Nationals completed their amazing comeback journey — fittingly with one last late rally on the road.
In Game 7 of the World Series, no less.
Kendrick and Rendon homered in the seventh inning as the Nationals overcame a two-run deficit, rocking the Houston Astros 6-2 Wednesday night to win the first title in franchise history.
With all eyes on Scherzer and his remarkable recovery after a painkilling injection, these Nationals truly embraced their shot in the only Series when the road team won every game.
Even more against the odds: Juan Soto and Washington came from behind to win five elimination games this postseason, an unprecedented feat.
"What a story," said Ryan Zimmerman, the only player who's been a part of every Nationals team.
"The way this game went is the way our whole season went," he said.
Strasburg, new lefty Patrick Corbin and the Nats brought the first World Series championship to the nation's capital since ol' Walter Johnson delivered the crown for the Senators in 1924.
This franchise started out as the Montreal Expos in 1969 when the major leagues expanded beyond the border, putting a team with tricolor caps at jaunty Jarry Park. They moved to D.C. in 2005, ending Washington's three-decade-plus wait for big league baseball after the Senators left town to become the Texas Rangers.
But the incredible path these wild-card Nationals with the curly W logo took, well, no one could have imagined.
Because in one topsy-turvy week, they put aside the pain of past playoff failures.
"Resilient, relentless bunch of guys," manager Dave Martinez said. "They fought all year long."
Having lost star slugger Bryce Harper in free agency and beset by bullpen woes, Washington plummeted to 19-31 in late May. It got so bad there was talk around town the Nationals might fire Martinez and trade away Scherzer.
Instead, they stuck with the mantra that sprung up on T-shirts — Stay In The Fight.
"That was our motto," Scherzer said.
And months later they finished it, indeed.
"Guess what? We stayed in the fight. We won the fight!" Martinez shouted during the trophy celebration on the field.
"We were down and out. We were 19-31. We didn't quit then, we weren't going to quit now," he said.
Strasburg earned the MVP with a pair of wins, including Game 6.
"It's almost like we've done it so many times that we have to get punched in the face to kind of wake up," he said.
As pitcher Aníbal Sánchez told Scherzer while hugging him in the middle of the diamond: "We won one. We finally won one."
For the 43,326 revved-up fans at Minute Maid Park, it was a combination of shock and disappointment. So close to seeing José Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer and their Astros add to the title they won in Game 7 at Dodger Stadium two years ago, they watched this chance suddenly vanish as Houston fell apart.
"I've got a group of heartbroken men in there that did everything they could to try to bring a World Series championship to this city. And we fell one win shy," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.