Nationals are just one win away from glory

Brian Tinsman
October 30, 2019 - 1:16 am

Even though the Lerners deny it, there may have been a time early in the season when manager Dave Martinez was one or two losses away from being fired.

Just a few months later, in the same season, with most of the same players, his Washington Nationals are only one win away from a World Series Championship.

Baseball gets criticized for being too slow--between pitches, game length and season length--but length equals strength for the 2019 Nationals.

After an atrocious start to the regular season, they needed more than 100 games to secure their spot in the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, their calling card has been late-inning heroics, especially jumping on starters their third time through the lineup.

That’s exactly what happened on Tuesday night, as the Nats turned a 1-2 deficit into a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning, getting the better of Astros ace Justin Verlander with long balls from Adam Eaton and Juan Soto.

Not only did it put the Nats ahead for good, but it also equaled their offensive production during the entire homestand, where they scored just three runs in 27 innings.

Looking for add on runs in the seventh inning, Washington survived a controversial umpire call and added two runs off the bat of Anthony Rendon.

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In his next trip to the plate, Rendon struck again, knocking in two more runs for a decisive 7-2 lead.

It has been quite a series for Rendon, as the Houston native has done some of his best work in his hometown. On Wednesday, he will look to have a leading role in the Nats’ quest for a World Series Championship.

If the Nats are successful, they will become the first World Series champions to win the series without winning a game at home. Already, D.C. and Houston have made history, with the road team winning each of the first six games of the series. 

While his health is still uncertain, the Nationals also expect to have Max Scherzer available to start Game 7. Scherzer, who was originally slated to match Gerrit Cole in Game 5, was scratched with neck and back spasms and replaced by Joe Ross.

The extra days of rest reportedly worked wonders on Scherzer, who briefly warmed in the bullpen while Stephen Strasburg was still in the game. Scherzer was not needed and sat down, as Strasburg filled the stopper role to perfection.

With the series now even through six games, the fate of the next game determines the season’s final grade. But given how far this team has come and how much the city has rallied around it, it’s hard to grade this season as anything less than a success.

Wednesday just determines whether they reach D.C. sports immortality.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.