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After dominating in D.C. to take all three games on the road to take a 3-2 lead in the series, the Astros returned home to try and finish the series in front of their home crowd with Justin Verlander on the mound. Once again, though, the road team would come out ahead as the Nationals would get the better of Houston's pitching, winning 7-2 and forcing a Game 7. Here is a recap of the game:
Final Score: Nationals 7, Astros 2.
Series: tied 3-3.
Winning Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg.
Losing Pitcher: Justin Verlander.
Nationals score first, but Springer and Bregman respond
It was the Nationals who would strike first in Game 6, getting a leadoff single, moving the runner over on a sacrifice, then getting an RBI-single by Anthony Rendon to put Houston down 1-0 in the top of the first. The Astros fought back immediately, starting with a leadoff double by George Springer.
He moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Altuve, tying the game 1-1. After a strikeout by Michael Brantley on a questionable called third strike, Alex Bregman gave Houston their first lead of the night by crushing a solo home run to the Crawford Boxes, making it a 2-1 Houston advantage.
First inning fireworks. #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/35s4kDsP4W
— MLB (@MLB) October 30, 2019
World Series drought for Verlander continues
The 2-1 lead held through the early goings of the game, with both Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg settling in. Verlander, however, was dealing with long innings that had his pitch count rising and leading him to an early exit. He entered the top of the fifth inning already at 75 pitches, and the Nationals would take advantage.
Washington would get two solo home runs against him in the inning, first a one-out shot by Adam Eaton that tied the game, then a go-ahead moonshot by Juan Soto into the upper deck that gave the Nationals the lead back at 3-2. Verlander would finish the inning, but that would be it for him in this World Series, and leaving down a run would mean he would have to wait at least one more year to get his first win in a World Series start. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR.
SOTO TO THE MOON. pic.twitter.com/9FrMo3zIsE
— MLB (@MLB) October 30, 2019
Washington extends their lead after a controversial play
It was Brad Peacock taking over for Verlander starting in the top of the sixth, and he would get a quick inning before returning in the seventh. He would allow a leadoff single, then after a very controversial play where Trea Turner was called out at first by interference while running to the bag. Instead of runners on second and third with no outs, it was instead a runner on first with one out.
Will Harris would come in to try and get through the inning and continue his incredible stretch of playoff dominance but instead would get tagged with a two-run home run by Anthony Rendon to extend Washington's lead to 5-2 before he would get through it. Ryan Pressly was next out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth and retired the Nationals in order.
Rendon RAKES. #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/UnkQqIoFZb
— MLB (@MLB) October 30, 2019
One more game to decide it all
Unlike Verlander, who exited after five innings and a high pitch count, Stephen Strasburg was making quick work of the Astros, which allowed him to stay in the game to start the bottom of the eighth. He would get through that inning as well, sending the 5-2 game to the ninth.
Chris Devenski would pitch in the top half, but he too would suffer runs as Anthony Rendon notched more RBIs with a two-RBI double to blow the game open at 7-2. That would be the final score after Strasburg would get one more out before Sean Doolittle would come in to get the final two outs.
Up Next: One last game. World Series Game 7 will be Wednesday and start at 7:08 PM Central. After being scratched from Game 5, Max Scherzer appears healthy again and will be called on by Washington to start for the Nationals. Houstons has not yet named their starter, but the likely candidate will be Zack Greinke.
The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.
Larry King used to describe what’s wrong with modern sports this way:
Back in the 1960s, two housewives are waiting in line at the supermarket checkout line. One picks up a copy of PhotoplayMagazine and says, “Isn’t Clint Eastwood dreamy?” The other says, “He’s so rugged, I love his movies. Let’s go tonight.”
Sixty years later, two women, one’s an attorney the other is vice-president of an investment firm, are in line at the supermarket checkout. One picks up a copy of Forbes and says, “You know, Brad Pitt owns two points of his new movie’s foreign distribution and has right of first refusal on all sequels and spinoffs. He stands to make $50 million for his production company.”
It’s a similar situation with sports then and now. Sometimes we don’t need to know how the sausage is made.
These days you couldn’t blame Astros fans for having a grudging resignation that star third baseman Alex Bregman will be leaving Houston at the end, more likely during, the 2024 season.
It’s not because the fans don’t like him. Not because he isn’t contributing. Not because he’s injured all the time. Not because the Astros have a better third baseman coming up from Triple A. Not for any good reason.
It’s because Bregman will be entering the last year of his contract and teams will be offering him big money to play for them. At least according to the media, Astros don’t think they can afford to keep him. Bregman’s agent is Scott Boras who loves to take his clients to free agency and watch other teams fight like jackals over his players.
This is the time of year when sportswriters play fantasy trades and one that’s gained traction involves the Astros saying goodbye to Bregman as part of a complicated four-team deal. Essentially, Bregman and Jake Meyers would go to the Yankees, while pitching prospect Spencer Arrighetti goes to the Chicago White Sox.
In return, the Astros would acquire rookie infielder Jordan Westburg from the Orioles.
While the attorney and investment banker might understand the financial bottom line of the deal, the two housewives from the ‘60s would ask Astros owner Jim Crane, “Have you lost your flippin’ mind?”
“Are you really saying goodbye to Alex Bregman, a popular player who is one of the few remnants of our first-ever World Series title in 2017, who hit 25 homers and drove in 98 runs last year, who played 161 games, who was a Gold Glove finalist, who is beloved in Houston … for a rookie who played less than half a season in 2023, and hit .260 with three home runs? Seriously, here’s a Dixie cup. We need to have you looked at.”
I know, it’s the Astros thing. Goodbye Carlos Correa. Goodbye Gerrit Cole. Goodbye George Springer. Goodbye Justin Verlander.
Goodbye Alex Bregman?
With a new manager and new(ish) general manager, this would be a good time to open the vault and go after big name free agents, not send them away. This isn’t how a major market team that draws 3 million fans at major market ticket prices is supposed to act. This is how the perennial loser Pittsburgh Pirates conduct business.
Or one day it will be goodbye fans.
I spoke with a baseball insider who thinks the Astros would be making the right move dispatching Bregman, Meyers and Arrighetti for a rookie infielder with a brief lifetime batting average of .260 and little power.
“Put a pencil to it (if the Astros sign Bregman to an extension) you’re looking at a $300 million payroll. I like the proposed trade because it lowers payroll, brings in a talented kid and nudges the transition. All the Astros core guys are either going to get raises or be out the door over the next two years, most notably Kyle Tucker. If I ran things, I’d fast-forward the roster churn. I’d make Altuve and Yordan Alvarez untouchable and throw everybody else into the discussion. The farm system is so weak that a collapse is inevitable.”
But why? Bregman is 29 years old. He’s in the middle of his prime years with tread still on his tires. He’s part of what makes the Astros a mini-dynasty with seven consecutive ALCS appearances, four World Series appearances and two championships since 2017.
In New York, sports columnists already have Bregman in pinstripes. They’re saying it’s practically a done deal. They’re saying, sure, there may be some early fan resentment because they consider Bregman part of the 2017 Astros sign stealers they feel robbed the Yankees of the American League pennant and stole Aaron Judge’s MVP. When the Astros visit Yankee Stadium, you hear fans cull Bregman and Altuve from the herd for lusty boos and jeers.
New York media is confident that fans will snap out of it once their new third baseman hits a few Breggy Bombs and makes diving plays at third base, a position where the Yankees sorely need improving.
Yankee fans have proven they’re a forgiving mob. Until the Astros got good, the archest enemy was Boston. Yankee fans forgave former Red Sox stars Jacoby Ellsbury, Johnny Damon, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens for their past sins. If you turn back the pages of history, there was this fellow named Babe Ruth who made fans overlook that used to play in Boston.
So far we haven’t heard how Bregman might feel about playing for the enemy. One supposes any nerves would be soothed by what could approach a $300 million contract.
It’s not like the old days when enemies stuck to their guns. The two housewives at the supermarket checkout would remind you that in 1956, when the Dodgers tried to trade Jackie Robinson to the rival Giants, Robinson retired from baseball rather than wear that despised uniform.