Hi all. Here’s how I saw game 6 of the World Series that recently ended. In spite of a bad call from the umps and an even worse review that didn’t change it, Anthony Rendon managed to “cowboy up,” as the 2004 Red Sox put it. His 2-run home run in the top of the 7th and 2-run double in the 9th made all the difference in the Nationals’ 7–2 win.
Early on, it wasn’t Rendon’s show. While the Nats scored the first run, Houston answered quickly and had a 2-1 lead. Alex Bregman, who had hit a grand slam to break open game 4 in Washington, hit a solo shot and carried his bat with him partway down the baseline as he went into his home run trot. From there, Stephen Strasburg resumed being Stephen Strasburg, the Scourge of the Postseason Opposition. He was only removed with one out in the 9th.
While Strasburg kept the game at 2–1 Astros, the Nats’ bats continued to fizzle as they had done in all 3 Washington games. They left two men on in both the third and fourth. Possibly by the sixth, the aging Verlander was running out of gas. He didn’t give out a warning. The first sign of trouble was when Adam Eaton blasted a home run that tied the game. He crashed a hanging slider to right field. Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch kept him in, and prayed. Verlander retired Rendon, but gave up a second-deck shot to Juan Soto who had struggled mightily in games 3, 4, and 5 in DC.
The game’s high drama came an inning later. With the Nats up, nobody out, Yan Gomes on first, leadoff man Trea Turner hit what should have been a harmless grounder to third. The throw was so wild the Nats initially thought they had runners at second and third with nobody out. But wait … and I do mean wait. Umpire Sam Holbrook called Turner out for getting in the way of the fielder taking the throw at first. Washington fans already had reasons not to like some of the umpiring in this World Series, and this was the latest. Trea Turner tried to protest, but his coaches kept him out of danger, and it was well that they did. Manager Dave Martinez (or Davy If you listen to the Nats’ radio crew) did protest a bit too much and was ordered off the field for the evening. That fact didn’t come out until the Nats took the field later on. After Will Harris came in to pitch, an agonizing review process began. Harris did his 8 warmup pitches but could do little else. It seemed like the review took as long as my first two semesters of college. At last, after the umpires took their 40 days and 40 nights, the play stood as it had been called by umpire Holbrook.
There were two ways for the Nationals to go following the umpiring call and the review. One would have been to mope about it and quite possibly blow the game. Instead, Anthony Rendon stepped up like the veteran and the tough Texan he is. He’s been playing the game since 2013 and has a batting average just south of .300. Though he played his college ball in Houston at Rice University, somehow the Astros didn’t spot him. Washington did, and made him their first pick in 2011. While this was his first All-Star season, he has consistently raked starting in 2016, after a few rough early years. One game in particular, he went 6 for 6 with 10 RBIs as the Nats beat the Mets 23–5. I was living in the home of an avid Mets’ fan while waiting for new quarters to become available, and all I’ll say here was, it wasn’t pretty. So here we were, Gomes still on first and probably feeling 10 years older than he did when he reached base to start with. Do you yell at the TV when one team doesn’t do what you think they should? I yell at my computer which is how I hear these games. I was yelling for pitcher Harris to walk Rendon and pitch to Soto who was waiting on deck. I know Soto had gonged one earlier against a spent Justin Verlander. However, he doesn’t yet have the veteran toughness of Rendon. Manager Hinch didn’t listen to my advice being given at a distance of 1400 miles. He left Harris to face Rendon who crushed one of his offerings for a 2-run home run.
Between innings we found out manager Martinez of the Nats had been ejected, the first umpire to be told to “take a walk” since the Braves’ Bobby Cox in the equally contentious World Series of 1996. Rendon’s bat wasn’t finished. In the 9th, facing Chris Devenski rather than one of Hinch’s two best (Joe Smith or Roberto Osuna) Rendon unloaded and came within a few feet of another home run. In fact it was a 2-run double, and the crowd fled like all the devils of Inferno were chasing them. Their apparent destinations were I10, I69 or I45 as they hoped to win an unequal contest against”the Traffic.”
Meantime, Strasburg had rolled along like Old Man River, oblivious of the long delay in the 7th, not concerned that his manager had been ejected. Strasburg finally left after 8.1 innings with the game well in hand. The Nats have won their last 7 postseason games that were played on the road–3 in Houston, 2 in St. Louis and 2 in Los Angeles. Even the Yankees can only wish_ they had won 3 games in Houston.
You hear a lot of stories about Yogi Berra and the goofy things he may or may not have said. I’ve heard a recording of him saying this one. He was receiving a long-forgotten award, and was supposed to thank everybody who made this day possible. As only he could, Yogi said “I’d like to thank all the people who made this day necessary.” The crowd ate it up. Fast forward almost 50 years, and what has happened? Anthony Rendon’s toughness has made this day necessary. Game 7 will go off at 8 PM, some 18 hours from now as I write this. Assuming his neck is OK, (and he was tossing in the bull pen tonight so it looks like he’ll be good to go,) Max Scherzer will face Zack Greinke for all the marbles.0