The Astros completed the unthinkable by losing all four games at home in the World Series.
The Astros won 60 games at home in the regular season, but you wouldn’t know it by their World Series performance. They lost Game Seven to the Nationals by a 6-2 margin on Wednesday, losing all four games at Minute Maid Park in the World Series.
For all the blame there is to go around (and there’s plenty), absolutely none of it rests on Zack Greinke‘s shoulders. His final line in the box score doesn’t come close to doing justice to how incredibly well he pitched in the biggest game of his career.
Greinke carved up the Nationals hitters for six innings, allowing only one hit. In the seventh, he threw one bad pitch to Anthony Rendon, which ended up in the Crawford Boxes. After a 2-1 pitch to Juan Soto that was clearly a strike was called ball three, Greinke issued a walk that would be his final batter of the game.
Will Harris gave up a two-run homer to Howie Kendrick on his second pitch, and it really wasn’t that bad of a pitch. He painted the corner with a fastball, but Kendrick took it the other way off the right field foul pole.
The Nationals added a run in the eighth off Roberto Osuna and then another two runs off a Joe Smith/Jose Urquidy combo in the ninth. By the time Michael Brantley started to swing at the game’s final strike, the suspense was all gone.
Plenty of Reasons Why
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There’s plenty of blame to go around for this loss, but most of it lies at the feet of the Astros offense. They went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. They got Max Scherzer on the ropes repeatedly, only to let him off. There were multiple chances to deliver a knockout punch, but the Astros could not muster it.
Manager A.J. Hinch also took plenty of flak on social media, and rightfully so. Even though Greinke’s shutout was gone, he was still keeping Nationals hitters off balance and probably could have finished the seventh inning. It’s tough to argue with choosing to go to Harris, since he’d been so good prior to Game Six. That’s one that just didn’t work out.
Still, going back to Osuna in the eighth inning after he’d recorded the last two outs of the seventh was perplexing. With Gerrit Cole available and warming up repeatedly, Hinch elected not to use his ace, but instead left Osuna in for 36 pitches. He also didn’t use Cole in the ninth, although by that point it was largely moot.
The bullpen imploded, so there’s blame to be shared there as well. But in the end it was the offense that failed the Astros again. Truthfully, it was a miracle they made it all the way to Game Seven of the World Series considering how poorly they hit in the clutch for most of the postseason.
But make no mistake — the Nationals earned this championship. The Astros were the more talented team, but Washington just flat out played better. Congratulations to the Nationals on a well-deserved first title.
Now the Astros will turn their attention to the hot stove season as several players, most notably Cole, will hit free agency. Stick with Climbing Tal’s Hill for all your offseason coverage.