The Astros could not get it done when it mattered most

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Houston's season comes to a disappointing end with World Series Game 7 loss to Nationals

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The 2019 Astros had the best regular season in franchise history, and one of the best all-around rosters, ever. They battled against the Rays to win a Game 5 in the best-of-five ALDS, then defeated the powerful Yankees in the ALCS. They fell behind 0-2 in the World Series, then rattled off three impressive road wins to come back to Houston for the final two games. Yet, the Astros' season has come to an end with a disappointing loss in World Series Game 7.

The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 6-2 in World Series Game 7, completing an unprecedented stretch of seven games where the road team won every game. The loss prevents the Astros from winning their second World Series. Here is a breakdown of Game 7:

Final Score: Nationals 6, Astros 2.

Series: Nationals win 4-3.

Winning Pitcher: Patrick Corbin.

Losing Pitcher: Will Harris.

Gurriel puts Houston in front early

As expected, Game 7 started as a low-scoring affair, with both Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke keeping their opponent from blowing the game open early. It was Houston who would get a pivotal early run, though, thanks to a solo home run by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the second to put the Astros ahead 1-0.

Astros extend the lead while Greinke puts on a defensive clinic

While the Astros were getting runners on base and making Scherzer work for every out, Greinke was doing exactly what the Astros went out and got him for at the trade deadline. He was fantastic in the early innings, getting quick innings thanks to several gems by himself on defense.

Carlos Correa would help give him another run to work with, getting a two-out RBI-single to make it 2-0 to finally give the Astros a hit with runners in scoring position after struggling to that point. The Nationals moved to their bullpen in the bottom of the sixth after Scherzer reached 103 pitches through his five innings while allowing two runs. First out was Patrick Corbin, who would erase a leadoff single by pinch-hitting Jake Marisnick after a strikeout and double play.

Washington fights back with a big seventh

In the top of the seventh, Greinke remained in the game and would allow Washington's first run of the game, a solo home run to Anthony Rendon to cut the lead in half at 2-1. He would walk Juan Soto next, ending his night as A.J. Hinch would come to get him and move on to Will Harris. Harris, who allowed his first runs of the postseason the night before, would falter again in this game, giving up a go-ahead two-run home run to Howie Kendrick to make it a 3-2 Nationals lead.

Harris would allow a single in the next at-bat, getting pulled before recording an out. Houston would bring in their closer to try and stop the bleeding, and Roberto Osuna would get the last two outs of the seventh. That would finalize Greinke's line on the night: 6.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.

Nationals add to the lead and take the series

Corbin would hold the Astros scoreless again in the bottom of the seventh, and then in the top of the eighth, the Nationals extended their lead off of Osuna, who remained in the game, getting an RBI-single by Juan Soto to make it 4-2. The Nationals would get another single, and Houston would move on to Ryan Pressly to try and get the last out of the eighth, which he would do.

The Nationals stuck with Corbin in the bottom of the eighth, and he would record another scoreless inning to put Washington three outs away from the win. Joe Smith was next out of Houston's bullpen to try and keep it a two-run game and give his team a chance to rally in the bottom half. He would get only one out before loading the bases, bringing in Jose Urquidy. Urquidy would allow the dagger, a two-RBI single up the middle to Adam Eaton, to push it to a 6-2 lead for Washington.

In the bottom of the ninth, down four runs, the Astros had the top of their lineup against the new reliever for Washington, Daniel Hudson. They would come away empty, watching the Nationals win the World Series and begin their celebration inside Minute Maid Park.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

Houston accused of more wrongdoing

New report of illegal sign-stealing puts Astros back under scrutiny

Jason Behnken / Getty Images

Back in 2017, the Houston Astros could be considered the darlings of the MLB. They helped pull a Harvey-ravaged city out of despair and into a celebration in a matter of months with the acquisition of Justin Verlander and subsequent World Series victory. The young team full of potential suddenly had the attention of not only fans but other MLB clubs and the league's front office.

On Tuesday, that attention reared itself yet again in a severely negative way, with the Athletic reporting (subscription required) that former-Astro Mike Fiers was alleging and confirming that his former team used illegal means to steal signs in their 2017 championship season. Fiers, along with three other anonymous sources with the team in 2017, claims that the team used cameras and other technology to monitor opposing catchers to relay signs to batters in real-time. The Astros have released the following statement:

"Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time."

While GM Jeff Luhnow had this to say:

Another negative blow to the team's reputation

This is not the first time the Astros have been under a microscope in recent years, the most recent being less than a month ago when assistant general manager Brandon Taubman taunted reporters in the Astros clubhouse following their ALCS series-clinching win. The Astros fumbled that event, coming out with a rebuttal against the reporter, which would eventually be retracted, and Taubman terminated from his employment.

Neither is this the first time the Astros have dealt with accusations of sign-stealing and other forms of cheating. In this year's ALCS, the Yankees complained about a "whistling" noise from Houston's dugout they believed to be a method of relaying pitches to batters at the plate. Also, in the 2018 postseason, the Astros found themselves under fire for having an employee taking photos of the opposing team's dugout.

It's just part of the game until it's not

Both pitch tipping and stealing signs are things that are nearly unavoidable in baseball. With the catcher having to relay a sign to the pitcher 60.5 feet away using his hands, the opposing team will inevitably try to decipher what's coming. The same is true of tipping, where if a pitcher has a tell before a specific pitch, that information will quickly spread through the dugout.

However, there is a line teams should not cross, and that comes by way of utilizing technology to aid further the ability to steal signs, and using that to give an immediate advantage to a batter amid an at-bat. The Astros are not the first team to be alleged of this type of grievance, as the Red Sox received a fine after utilizing a smartwatch to try and steal signs.

It's a widely known and accepted fact that teams will try anything within reason to get a leg up on their opponent. However, with technology ever improving both for organizations to use and be caught by, it's no surprise that this is becoming an issue that the MLB will have to deal with, and soon.

Ramifications could loom large

Will the Astros be found guilty and made an example of to deter other teams for trying similar tactics? It appears we will have to wait for the conclusion of this investigation to find out. While it may not be an indictment of the entire team, it will bring into question the integrity and character of many of the team.

Still, no matter the outcome, the report alone and continued negativity surrounding the Astros organization has made them villains of many, a role that many would not have expected this team to play if asked just two years ago.

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