Nationals complete total playoff upset, defeat Astros to win first championship in franchise history


The Nationals’ improbable run through the playoffs ended in glory on Wednesday night in Houston as they rallied late to defeat the Astros 6-2 in Game 7 of the World Series. It’s their first championship in franchise history.

Things weren’t looking so hot for the Nationals early on as starter Max Scherzer battled just to get through five innings. He surrendered a solo homer to Yuli Gurriel in the second. Carlos Correa came through with an RBI single in the fifth. Despite allowing a surfeit of base runners (seven hits and four walks) and a deficit of strikeouts (only three), those would be the only runs Scherzer would allow.

Astros starter Zack Greinke was brilliant, tossing six shutout innings. He came back out to the mound in the seventh and that’s when things began to unravel. Anthony Rendon got the Nationals on the board by pulling a line drive homer to the seats in left field. Greinke then walked Juan Soto, ending what was otherwise an outstanding performance. Will Harris entered to try and keep the Astros’ lead in tact. Howie Kendrick had other ideas. With an 0-1 count, Kendrick swatted a Harris cutter down the right field line, clanking off the right field foul pole. Suddenly, the Nationals had a 3-2 lead.

The Nationals kept their foot on the gas. Asdrúbal Cabrera singled to chase Harris from the game. Enter Roberto Osuna. He walked Ryan Zimmerman but was able to escape the inning without any further damage. Osuna remained in the game in the top of the eighth. He issued a one-out walk to Adam Eaton, who promptly stole second base. After Rendon flied out for the second out, Juan Soto provided a monumental insurance run by ripping a single to right field. Kendrick followed up with a single to put runners on the corners. Hinch called on Ryan Pressly, who got Cabrera to line out but the damage was done.

Patrick Corbin, who entered the game in the sixth inning once Scherzer’s night was done, pitched a relatively easy sixth and seventh inning. Manager Dave Martinez sent him back out to the mound to pitch a third inning in the bottom of the eighth. It was his easiest of the three innings, retiring the Astros in 1-2-3 order. His performance will not be talked about as much as those of Scherzer, Kendrick, Rendon, and Soto, but it took all kinds of pressure off of Martinez to manage his bullpen and prevented the Astros from gaining any kind of momentum towards a comeback.

The Nationals deflated all of the air out of the Astros’ balloon in the top of the ninth, plating two runs on a bases loaded Eaton single just for good measure. With Corbin having done his job, Daniel Hudson took the ball to start the bottom of the ninth, slated to face the top of the lineup. George Springer popped out for out number one. José Altuve struck out. Hudson ended it by getting Michael Brantley to chase a 3-2 slider for strike three. Nationals win 6-2.

Thus, one of the most improbable playoff runs of all time ended with the Nationals rushing onto the field in a rush to celebrate the franchise’s first championship. We will be talking about this run for a long time.

MLB rejected Players’ 114-game season proposal, will not send a counter

Rob Manfred
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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Major League Baseball has rejected the MLBPA’s proposal for a 114-game season and said it would not send a counter offer. The league said it has started talks with owners “about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union.”

This should be understood as a game of chicken.

The background here is that the the owners are pretty much locked into the idea of paying players a prorated share of their regular salaries based on number of games played. The players, meanwhile, are pretty much locked in to the idea that the owners can set the length of the season that is played. Each side is trying to leverage their power in this regard.

The players proposed a probably unworkable number of games — 114 — as a means of setting the bidding high on a schedule that will work out well for them financially. Say, a settled agreement at about 80 games or so. The owners were rumored to be considering a counteroffer of a low number of games — say, 50 — as a means of still getting a significant pay cut from the players even if they’re being paid prorata. What Rosenthal is now reporting is that they won’t even counter with that.

Which is to say that the owners are trying to get the players to come off of their prorated salary rights under the threat of a very short schedule that would end up paying them very little. They won’t formally offer that short schedule, however, likely because (a) they believe that the threat of uncertain action is more formidable; and (b) they don’t want to be in the position of publicly demanding fewer baseball games, which doesn’t look very good to fans. They’d rather be in the position of saying “welp, the players wouldn’t talk to us about money so we have no choice, they forced us into 50 games.”

In other news, the NBA seems very close to getting its season resumed.