What are the two greatest words in the English language? Game. Seven. Tonight, Major League Baseball will crown a champion as we will see game seven of the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. For the first time in MLB history, the road team has won each of the first six games of a series. The Nationals are hoping to make it seven in a row tonight as they look to win the first championship in franchise history.
Last night’s game went much as I thought it would as I expected a lower scoring and tightly contested game. We took the under seven and a half runs, and we hit the ninth inning with the under still intact. But unfortunately for us, Anthony Rendon decided to prove yet again why he should win the NL MVP this year, as he came through with a two-RBI double, to give him five runs batted in on the night. That blast pushed the game over, and we took a hard-luck late inning loss.
Stephen Strasburg was magical yet again as the guy worked into the ninth inning, and allowed just two runs, and picked up the win. For Houston, Justin Verlander continued his struggles as he got roughed up for three runs in five innings and ran his record to just 1-4 in the playoffs. It has been a back and forth and nearly impossible to predict series, and it all comes to a head tonight in game seven!
Starting for the Nationals is Max Scherzer (3-0 2.16 ERA), and for the Astros it is Zack Greinke (0-2 5.30 ERA). The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. The Astros are -137 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 PM PST from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
When Max Scherzer got scratched at the last minute for his scheduled game five start, it looked like it would be the end of his season. But after getting a cortisone shot, and taking a couple of days off, all of the sudden, this guy is ready to go in game seven. The Nats even teased bringing him in last night out of the bullpen as he got up to throw in the eighth inning, that tells me he must be at 100%.
And if Scherzer really is fully healthy, he offers a ton of value tonight as an underdog. When you look at how Scherzer has pitched this postseason, he has been great. Mad Max has made five appearances and is 3-0 with an ERA of just 2.16, and the Nationals have won all five games. Much like Strasburg, the Nats just don’t seem to ever lose with Scherzer on the mound.
And he won’t be afraid of pitching on the road, as three of his five postseason appearances have been on the road. And in those three games, he has pitched a combined thirteen innings and has allowed just three earned runs. That includes game one of this series, where he threw five innings of two-run ball and picked up the win in Houston. The Nats have shown that they will use any form of starting pitching out of the bullpen, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Anibal Sanchez or Patrick Corbin pitch at some point in this one if they are needed.
Zack Greinke was brought in for just this occasion, to win big games in the playoffs. But unfortunately for Astros fans, he hasn’t done a very good job of that in this postseason. He has yet to pick up a winning decision in four starts, and his ERA is high at over five runs. While he did manage only to allow one run in his last start, against these Washington Nationals, it could have been much worse as he gave up seven hits and three walks in just four and two-thirds of an inning pitched. He was constantly getting himself into jams and having to find ways to work out of them.
Is there anything better than a game seven of a World Series? We saw in last night’s game that the Nationals are down to play small ball to try and score runs. After Trea Turner led off the game with a single, he was sacrificed over by Adam Eaton, and later driven in by Anthony Redon. It is rare these days that you see teams play for one run so early in a game, but Washington knows that runs are going to be hard to come by and that one run might be the difference. I expect them to play a similar style tonight, and to me, that makes them the side I want to back.
Whether it is having the courage to sacrifice a guy over with no outs in the first inning or to make the unconventional move to turn the game over to a Corbin or Sanchez out of the bullpen, this Washington team is going to be open to just about anything that might work. That’s not to say the Astros aren’t going to be trying their hardest, they will be going all out as well, but I don’t see Altuve, Springer, or Bregman laying down bunts early in this game.
I think Scherzer continues his dominance, and they are going to ride him until his arm falls off, just like they did with Strasburg last night. The back spasms scare me a little bit, but he is on eight days rest, so if the cortisone is working, he should be very well rested and ready to throw 120+ pitches if they need him to.
And Greinke? It is just too hard to trust this guy right now, as he has been way too inconsistent. Even when he does post decent numbers, he isn’t getting deep into games, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one gets handed over to the Houston bullpen by the sixth inning. At home in this series, the Houston bullpen has allowed twelve runs in nine innings of work. That doesn’t scream confidence if you ask me.
I think the Nationals win this game and the World Series Championship that goes with it tonight on the road. I hate to take road teams, especially in elimination games, but this series has been whacky from the start, with the road team winning every game. So, I won’t let that scare me from taking the clear value side of this one and backing Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals. Give me the Washington Nationals tonight in game seven at +127!