2019 World Series presents pitching, home game woes

Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole throws a pitch in the first inning of Game Five against the Washington Nationals in Houston’s 7-1 win Sunday in Washington, D.C. Cole was acquired by the Astros via trade with the Pittsburg Pirates in 2018 and had a stellar 2019 with 326 strikeouts over 20 wins and only five losses. Cole will be a free agent this offseason. Associated Press

By Michael Knight | Reporter

On Wednesday night, the Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 6-2 in game seven of the 2019 World Series to win their first title in franchise history. As Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley to end it, a massive celebration by the Nationals began on the field.

It was a dramatic, seven-game series that saw the underdog Nationals come away with the victory. They were disregarded by just about everyone throughout the year after starting the season just 19-31 in their first 50 games. They went on to be one of the best teams in Major League Baseball throughout the rest of the year and carried that momentum into October.

The Astros, on the other hand, had the best regular season in their history, finishing with 107 wins and securing the best record in the league. They were looking to secure their second World Series title in three years after winning one in 2017, but ultimately the Astros fell to the Nationals in a winner-take-all situation.

Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole was available in relief for the team but was never called upon to enter the game. Cole had a historic season and was a key factor in the Game Five win for Houston. He is set to become a free agent this winter.

Manager of the Houston Astros, A.J. Hinch, talked postgame about the decision to not use Gerrit Cole on short rest.

“I wasn’t going to pitch him unless we were going to win the World Series and have a lead,” Hinch said. “He was going to help us win…He was going to close the game in the ninth after I brought [Roberto] Osuna in, had we kept the lead.”

Stephen Strasburg was named the World Series Most Valuable Player for the Washington Nationals after shutting down the Astros in Games Two and Six. He allowed just four runs across 14.1 innings, striking out 14. In Game Six Tuesday night, he nearly threw a complete game, going 8.1 innings and allowing two runs while striking out seven.

“It’s just surreal,” Strasburg said on the FOX broadcast after Wednesday’s game. “And to be able to do it with this group of guys is something special. We didn’t quit, and I love every one of those guys. It took all of us to do it.”

Strasburg will also have the ability to become a free agent if he so desires. He can opt-out of his remaining four-years, $100 million and sign elsewhere or re-sign with the Nationals.

Among the many storylines of the World Series is the historic woes at home by each of the teams. While home-field advantage is something that is often sought after in sports, there was not one home win in the long series.

The Nationals started off by taking the first two games in Houston before the series shifted to Washington. The bats of the Astros then took off as they won all three games in D.C.

Down 3-2, the Nationals grinded out two victories in Houston to finish the series and win it all.

This was the first time in the history of Major League Baseball that the home teams didn’t win a single game in a series. In fact, it was the first time in any of the major professional American sports that this happened.

The key difference for the Astros between being on the road versus at home was the run production. They scored a total of just 11 runs in the four home games, as opposed to 19 in the three road games. Their inability to hit with runners in scoring position cost them in each of their losses.

The Astros will be back in March as they try to retake the World Series crown in the 2020 season. All-Star pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who sat out the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, tweeted out some sentiments for the team and fans that sums it up well.

“Thank you #HTown for the endless support, passion and love you show for us,” McCullers said. “We fell short, sometimes it happens. Amazing season by an amazing group of players and people. I know we will all work endlessly to hang another WS banner. Much love, see you in 2020.”