HOUSTON – The Washington Nationals won its first ever World Series championship on Wednesday and will bring home its first title in 51 years after beating the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 7.
The win caps a remarkable turnaround for the Nationals and Puerto Rican manager Dave Martinez, who had led the team to 31 defeats in its opening 50 games of the season.
“It’s a group of tough and unforgiving guys,” Martinez said at the end of the game at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The Astros had opened up 2-0 lead by the sixth inning, before third baseman Anthony Rendon and designated hitter Howie Kendrick hit a home run apiece in the seventh to turn the match around.
Under the slogan “Stay in the Fight,” the Nationals have overcome deficits in the playoffs on five separate occasions to secure unlikely victories on their way to the franchise’s first ever World Series win.
Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who required a dose of injections and painkillers ahead of the match, presented a remarkable recovery and became a key player for the winners.
The victory marked the first time in baseball history that a visiting team has won each of the seven games that were played in a World Series.
“What a story! I hope DC’s ready for us to get home!” first baseman for the Nationals Ryan Zimmerman said.
Pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and the Nationals will be bringing their first World Series to the US capital since Walter Johnson won the trophy with the Senators in 1924.
The Nationals franchise was founded as the Montreal Expos in 1969 when Major League Baseball expanded north of the border.
In 2005, the Expos moved to the US capital, which had lacked representation in the majors for over three decades, after the Senators had moved for a second time to become the Texas Rangers.
Fourteen years later, the Nationals completed a winning tour that few predicted at the start of the season, especially after they had lost their leading star player, right fielder Bryce Harper, at the beginning of the year.
The Nats had even considered the possibility of firing Martinez and rebuilding the team for the 2020 season.
But instead, they decided to give Martinez a chance, something that has now made him only the second Puerto Rican manager to win the World Series title.
Not only were the Nationals able to overcome their own obstacles, they also managed to defeat arguably the most talented team in the league in the Series decisive final game on Houston’s own turf in front of 43,326 spectators who filled the Minute Maid Park.
The Astros, champions in 2017, had gone into the postseason with the best record in the league with 107 regular season wins, could not capitalize on home field advantage to put Washington away.
For the Nationals, the win represents vindication on a decades-long road to success which has been filled with setbacks and disappointments, and brings a second major title to the US capital city after the Washington Capitals won last year’s National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup last year.