The Washington Nationals are World Series champions after knocking off the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.
It’s a game that captured the 2019 postseason perfectly. The Nationals fell behind early and seemed destined to suffer another heartbreak. They trailed 2-0 entering the seventh inning with Zack Greinke rolling and then everything changed on a few magical swings.
The team of destiny would not be denied their first World Series title. Once Washington took the lead, it never let the Astros come near it again. Finally, after years of falling short, the Nationals could celebrate.
Here are the winners and losers from Washington’s championship-clinching victory over Houston in Game 7 of the World Series.
Winner: Howie Kendrick, designated hitter, Washington Nationals
The 2019 postseason will be remembered for dozens of amazing moments. Kendrick, the 36-year-old who drew little attention coming into October, is the biggest reason why a championship is coming to Washington D.C.
Kendrick’s go-ahead blast in the seventh inning of Game 7 really shouldn’t come as a surprise. He crushed the stunning grand slam to send the Nationals past the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS before taking home NLCS MVP honors. The Nationals were the best story in baseball this October. It only fits that Kendrick is the face of their memorable championship run.
Loser: Will Harris, relief pitcher, Houston Astros
Manager A.J. Hinch turned to the reliever he trusted most in a crucial spot. Harris, who came in with a 0.93 ERA with only six hits allowed in 9.2 innings, needed to retire Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s a spot Harris thrived in throughout the playoffs and two quick outs would allow the Astros to use Gerrit Cole for the last two innings.
Instead, Harris’ cutter caught enough of the zone and Kendrick made perfect contact. Every detail matters in October and Harris’ minuscule mistake, perhaps a result of his extensive workload this postseason, put the pitch in a spot Kendrick likes. That was game. That was series.
Winner: Zack Greinke, pitcher, Houston Astros
This is the start Houston’s front office dreamed of when it acquired Greinke at the trade deadline. The veteran took the mound in Game 7 of the World Series and put on a pitching and defensive clinic. Of course, that’s not too surprising given he’s a five-time Gold Glove Award recipient.
Greinke faced the minimum through his first four innings and only required 41 pitches to do it. He did a lot of the work himself with five assists and a handful of outstanding players on comebackers.
Unfortunately for the future Hall of Famer, Houston’s hitters could never deliver the big hit and it proved costly. While it will be lost in Washington’s celebration, Greinke delivered a masterful gem in Game 7.
Loser: Robinson Chirinos, catcher, Houston Astros
Chirinos played like a World Series MVP in Washington D.C. and kept this team alive. Unfortunately for the Astros, his bat froze along with several teammates when the series shifted back to Houston.
The veteran didn’t deliver in the big moments. After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Game 6, Chirinos went 0-for-4 in Game 7 with four runners stranded. He bunted into a pop out with two runners on in the second and struck out with runners on the corners in the fifth. Once a hero in this series, Chirinos couldn’t do it again.
Winner: Anthony Rendon, third baseman, Washington Nationals
Players usually only dream of a stretch like this before free agency. Rendon came into October with nothing to prove to other teams. The 2019 postseason was simply an opportunity to help win his team a championship and further demonstrate his star abilities. He exceeded those expectations and deserved serious consideration for World Series MVP.
After coming up clutch in Game 6, Rendon raised the bar in Game 7 with a solo home run to break Washington’s drought on the scoreboard. He also became the third player in MLB history to homer in Game 6 and Game 7 of the World Series. Rendon will wear a championship ring into the offseason and certainly earned the massive contract that will follow it.
Loser: A.J. Hinch, manager, Houston Astros
Houston entered the seventh inning just nine outs shy of a championship. Hinch stuck with Greinke on a hot streak and saw the two run lead immediately cut in half. Once Greinke walked Juan Soto, Hinch turned to Harris. Hinch didn’t turn to his All-Star closer Roberto Osuna and he didn’t turn to Cole.
He wanted to stick with his plan and it immediately backfired. Once Harris blew the lead, Hinch brought in Osuna and immediately compounded his questionable decision by leaving his closer in too long. Osuna grew increasingly ineffective as his pitch count soared and it further increased Washington’s lead. One of the best managers in MLB picked the worst time to make a few mistakes and his bullpen didn’t save him.
Winner: Patrick Corbin, pitcher, Washington Nationals
The Nationals swung big in the offseason by signing Corbin to a six-year, $140 million contract. The 30-year-old’s outstanding Game 7 performance in relief is worth every dollar the organization paid.
Corbin took over in the sixth inning and quickly gave the Nationals a spark. After Washington’s lineup exploded for three runs and gave him the lead in the seventh, he went back to work and sent down the heart of Houston’s batting order then mowed through the bottom of it in the eighth. The definition of an outstanding performance in the clutch and proof that spending money in free agency pays off.