The 2019 Major League Baseball season is over. The Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 7 last night to take the Series, four wins to three. The visiting team won every game of the Series.
On their way to their first championship, the Nationals beat a 106-win Dodgers team and a 107-win Houston club. They played in five elimination games in the playoffs, trailed in each, and won all five.
The Nationals lost Bryce Harper via free agency to Philly. They were 19-31 after 50 games to start the 2019 season and some were calling for manager Davey Martinez to be fired. He sure seemed to make some nice moves in October to navigate his way around a shaky bullpen to win it all.
The Nats trailed in the National League wild card game 3-0 against Milwaukee and they were down 3-1 heading to the last of the eighth. They won 4-3. They kept pulling out games and pulling out series, two of those against favored teams.
Before this year they had never won a playoff series. They begin next year as defending World Series champs.
The goat: Houston reliever Will Harris could be that. While some were waiting and wondering when Gerrit Cole would get into Game 7, the Astros turned to Harris with a 2-1 lead in the seventh. They pulled Zack Greinke while he was pitching a gem and after he gave up a homer and walk. Harris allowed a two-run homer to Howie Kendrick that turned a 2-1 Houston lead into a 3-2 Nats lead. Houston never recovered.
But Houston right-hander Justin Verlander could also be a good selection as the goat. And I don’t mean the greatest of all time. In the two games he started versus Washington, Houston lost Game 2 by a 12-3 score and Game 6 by a 7-2 score. In two World Series games he went 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA. He allowed three homers in 11 innings. This after a regular season when he went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA.
Verlander won the 2011 American League Cy Young Award and has finished in the top five six times in all for the honor, which he could get again in a few weeks.
But Verlander is 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA in seven World Series starts. So strange to see from such a great pitcher. In 31 career postseason games, he is 14-11 with a 3.40 ERA while pitching in the playoffs eight times.
Orioles fans can still remember winning three straight against the Detroit Tigers in the 2014 American League Division Series. The starting pitchers against them were Max Scherzer in Game 1, Verlander in Game 2 and David Price in Game 3.
In the opener Scherzer took the loss and allowed five runs over 7 1/3 innings. In the second game, Verlander got a no-decision and gave up three runs in five innings. In Game 3, Price took the loss in allowing just two runs over eight innings. But fast-talking Bud Norris was good that day. The Bud man did not allow a run over 6 1/3 and got bullpen help from Andrew Miller and Zack Britton without a K, as the Orioles swept the series.
Carry that bat: Maybe I’m old school, just old or this is my “get off my lawn” moment, but I didn’t like the Astros’ Alex Bregman carrying his bat to first base after he homered in Game 6. He’s a great player, no doubt, and perhaps a bit cocky, but maybe that helps him be great. But no reason to do what he did. It was lame. The bat fell when his first base coach tried to grab it. It landed in fair territory on the infield dirt.
Not good. OK, nothing to get too worked up about, I know, but that’s my take on it. Let the kids play, let them show emotion - sure. They let them flip bats, and I can accept that at most times. Carrying the bat down the first-base line? Not for me.
Looking ahead: These odds to win the 2020 World Series came out in the afternoon on Wednesday before last night’s Game 7. They are courtesy of BetOnline.ag.
Houston is the 5-1 favorite, with both the Yankees and Nationals at 8-1 and the Red Sox and Dodgers at 12-1. Here are the bottom five.
Miami Marlins - 100/1
Pittsburgh Pirates - 100/1
Toronto Blue Jays - 100/1
Detroit Tigers - 150/1
Baltimore Orioles - 250/1
Six teams, six championships: Yes, but in 18 tries. Here is what I am talking about. Houston this year became the sixth team in major league history to win 100 or more three years in a row. Until I looked up these teams, I didn’t realize that it is the Orioles that produced the most combined wins of those six clubs. Two of the six teams won two World Series each, two won one championship and two won no championships.
* Philadelphia A’s, 1929-31: Won 313 games and WS titles in 1929 and 1930.
* St. Louis Cardinals, 1942-44: Won 316 games and WS titles in 1942 and 1944.
* Baltimore Orioles, 1969-71: Won 318 games and WS title in 1970.
* Atlanta Braves, 1997-99: Won 310 games and zero championships.
* New York Yankees, 2002-04: Won 305 games and zero championships.
* Houston Astros, 2017-19: Won 311 games and the 2017 WS title.