The World Series is Swinging Back Into Action: Nationals vs Astros


Anthony Russo

The 2019 MLB Postseason has finally climaxed, and the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals are spearheading the battle as the represent the American and National Leagues, respectively.

Anthony Russo, Staff Writer

The Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series is no ordinary playoff series. This is where the thunderous chants from supporting fans are heard the loudest, where legacy-defining moments will go down in history and where one team will defy all odds to be crowned MLB champion. The Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros are the two teams competing to solidify their legacy in baseball history. Below is an analytical standpoint on the various steps each respective World Series contender had to take to reach the final stage before the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Off-Season 

The 2018 campaign for the Washington Nationals was a roller coaster surrounded by rumors of whether or not their star player, Bryce Harper, would re-sign with the team in the 2019 off-season. Because of all the distractions affecting their play on the field, the Washington Nationals fell short of the 2018 postseason with a record of 82-80 and entered the off-season with a chip on their shoulders.

However, the tension only continued to pile up as the rumors got stronger and, before they knew it, their franchise player was gone. Bryce Harper signed with their division rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. The once dominant team in the National League East was looking like a former shell of what they used to be.

The Nationals’ management quickly made moves to compensate for all their losses and signed established starting pitcher Patrick Corbin. They also brought in Anibal Sanchez and Brian Dozier to name a few valuable players. With that, the Washington Nationals suited up to start to 2019 MLB campaign.

The Houston Astros came off of their 2018 season making the postseason, but ultimately falling short of their goal, losing to the Boston Red Sox in five games during the National League Championship Series. 

Their offseason was a generally quiet one as the Astros did not make many groundbreaking moves, but they did end up bringing in star left fielder Michael Brantley. The Astros thought it would be best to keep their core together and give it another chance the following year.

The Regular Season 

Just as expected, the Washington Nationals got off to a slow start in the 2019 regular season. They began winning just 12 of their first 29 games, but picked up the pace near the end of June where they won 8 of 9 games.  Their season took a turn when their starting rotation, which included Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, were lighting up the National League with their pitches and incredible stamina allowing them to go deep into games.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon flourished this season, putting up career stats across the board, batting .319 and recording 126 runs batted in (RBI). They also had Trea Turner, Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick light the league on fire, racking up numerous runs. They ended the 2019 campaign with an improved 93-69 record and made it into the 2019 postseason with a wildcard spot in the National League.

The Houston Astros started out hot and only got hotter as the season progressed. Their plan worked and they looked like they had a spot in the postseason on lock for a third consecutive season. Their team was backed up by an elite starting rotation which included Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander and they eventually acquired Zack Greinke by the trade deadline, leaving the league in fright.

The Astros’ offense was, once again, atop the league. Jose Altuve led the charge as he had a magnificent season posting phenomenal numbers with a .298 average and 31 home runs. Their infield was completely star-studded as they also had Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

Boasing a complete package on both offensive and defensive ends, the Astros were propelled to the league’s best record, standing tall at 107-55, landing them first place in the American League West.

Washington Nationals 2019 Postseason

Heading into the postseason, the Nationals still remained one of the four teams that have never made it to the World Series, or even won a playoff series. Despite this, they would be facing a formidable Milwaukee Brewers team in the National League Wildcard.

Through just one inning, despair spread among Nationals fans as they were already trailing the Brewers 2-0 after the first inning. The Nationals quickly turned the game around and used the momentum to finish the series, proving to the baseball world that they were capable of anything. From there, the Nationals closed out the Brewers and prepared for the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Nationals and the Dodgers split the first four games of the series. Heading into the deciding game five, the Dodgers came out swinging for the fences, hitting a two-run homer in the top of the first inning. They followed that up with another solo shot in the top of the second inning bringing the score to 3-0. Young National phenom Juan Soto would come through with an RBI in the top of the sixth frame making the score 3-1. The Dodgers brought in Clayton Kershaw in the top of the eighth, despite his unlucky history in the postseason.

History immediately repeated itself, and Kershaw gave up back-to-back solo shots to center field, tying the game and allowing it to go into extra innings. Then, the Nationals blew the game upon with a grand slam by Howie Kendrick, and Washington closed the game out 7-4, preparing for the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nationals kept living up to the hype as they completely dominated the Cardinals in every aspect of the game. In game one and two, both National pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer would combine their outings to allow just one run. The Nationals would complete a sweep, or win the first four games of the series, against the Cardinals and, with that, they would make their first ever World Series appearance.

“I believe the Nationals will beat the Astros since they had more days to rest and it is their first World Series. They have more of an ambition to win,” sophomore Carlos Ablanedo said.

Houston Astros 2019 Postseason

The Houston Astros would face the Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-five series to start their postseason madness. The Astros would strike first, taking a 2-0 lead against the Rays early on in the series. The Rays would respond by taking back the next two games, setting up a game five scenario.

In the finale, Astro second baseman Jose Altuve would make the first impact, bringing in a run in the first inning. Third baseman Alex Bregman would follow up with a two-run-double, giving the Astros a three run lead. Yuli Gurriel also struck in the top of the first inning, driving in another run and expanding the lead to four runs in favor of Houston. 

Eric Sogard from the Rays would hit a solo shot at the top of the second inning, bringing the score to 4-1 and the score would remain stagnant until the top of the eighth inning, where Michael Brantley hit a solo shot to bring the lead to 5-1. The Astros would maintain the lead and end the game with a final score of 5-1. They now prepared to face the New York Yankees.

The Yankees would take a quick jab at the Astros, humiliating them in game one with a decisive victory by a score of 7-0. The Astros would quickly retaliate by winning the next three games, making the series 3-1 in favor of the Astros. The Yankees answered by winning game five.

In game six, Yuli Gurriel got the Astros started offensively be clubbing a three-run homer after getting one hit out of his previous twenty attempts. Shortstop Didi Gregorius would follow for the Yankees with a single up the middle, narrowing the deficit to 3-1 in the top of the second.

In the top of the fourth, Gio Urshela would launch a missile to right center field, bringing the Yankees within one. Eventually a tie game heading into the bottom of the ninth, Jose Altuve stung a pitch it into the seats, sending the Astros to the World Series.

“I’m betting on the Astros because they have my favorite Cuban players, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel, and they have one of the greatest pitchers in the league today in Justin Verlander,” sophomore Alan Morffi said. 

Both the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros will face off against each other on Oct. 22, 2019 in the MLB World Series. Both teams overcame many challenges and may have even surprised others, but both teams will be representing the best of what each league has to offer. No doubt about it, this will be an intense and eventful World Series to keep up with.

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