HOUSTON — The winters in this Texas city are mild compared to other places where big-league teams reside, but starting Thursday the upcoming days will be filled with bone-chilling pain if not freezing temperatures.
The holidays might help, but don’t bet that way. There won’t be enough champagne on New Year’s Eve to dull the hurt. Spring training? Only a reminder of what happened in Game 7 on Wednesday night. And free agent Gerrit Cole could be wearing a different hat.
Poised to win their second World Series title in three years and eight outs away from beating the resilient Nationals, the sky crashed through Minute Maid’s ceiling and flattened the Astros.
Home runs by Houston native and former Rice University star Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick in the seventh lifted the Nationals to a 6-2 victory that shocked most of the 43,326 who were anticipating a wild night of celebration on Texas Street.
Instead it was the Nationals celebrating with showers of cheap bubbles and semi-cold beer after the franchise’s initial World Series title and the first for Washington since 1924.
The series also will be remembered for all seven games being won by the road team — a World Series first.
The Nationals won the first two at Minute Maid. The Astros recovered with three wins at Nationals Park and Washington copped the final two against a team that led the majors with 60 home victories. Four World Series games at home and the Astros went 0-for-4.
Pitching for the first time since Game 2 because of a nerve problem in the right side of his neck that required a cortisone injection and forced him to be a Game 5 scratch, Max Scherzer allowed two runs, seven hits, walked four and struck out three in five innings.
“He got the [cortisone] shot,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Scherzer before the game. “They told him he couldn’t do anything for 24 hours. He listened. He came back and he said he felt good. He threw flat ground. Said he felt real good. [Tuesday] he got up and threw just to throw in the bullpen. Said he felt great. So testament to him. This guy has been a workhorse. He’s itching to go. He wants to pitch and he’s excited to pitch.”
Patrick Corbin picked the Nationals over the Yankees as a free agent last offseason and he played a big part in the win by delivering three scoreless innings of relief after Scherzer split.
Armed with a 6-2 lead, Daniel Hudson started the ninth facing the top of the Astros’ lineup and recorded the final three outs.
Zack Greinke cruised through six innings in which he didn’t allow a run, faced one batter with a runner in scoring position and needed 67 pitches to register 18 outs.
Nothing looked wrong when he retired Adam Eaton on a grounder starting the seventh.
Then Rendon jolted Greinke with a homer to left on a 1-0 pitch. A walk to Juan Soto brought A.J. Hinch to the mound and he called for Will Harris. Two pitches later,
Kendrick drilled a down-and-away pitch off the right-field foul pole to put the visitors ahead, 3-2. Asdrubal Cabrera’s single forced Hinch to summon closer Roberto
Osuna to face Ryan Zimmerman and he walked. Osuna retired the next two hitters to keep it a one-run game.
The Nationals upped the lead to 4-2 when the Astros opted to pitch to Soto with first base open and Eaton on second with two outs in the eighth. The 21-year-old sensation drilled a single to right off Osuna that plated Eaton and gave the visitors a two-run advantage.