Almost out of contention in May, champs in October.
Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon and the Washington Nationals completed their amazing comeback journey — fittingly with one last late rally on the road. In Game 7 of the World Series, no less.
Kendrick and Rendon on Wednesday night homered in the seventh inning as the Nationals overcame a two-run deficit, rocking the Houston Astros 6-2 to win the first title in franchise history.
With all eyes on Max Scherzer and his remarkable recovery after a painkilling injection, the Nationals truly embraced their shot in the only World Series when the road team won every game.
Even more against the odds: Juan Soto and Washington came from behind to win five elimination games this post-season, an unprecedented feat.
“What a story,” said Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals’ first draft pick in 2005. “I hope DC’s [the District of Columbia] ready for us to come home.”
World Series Most Valuable Player Stephen Strasburg, new lefty Patrick Corbin and the Nationals won the first World Series championship for the nation’s capital since Walter Johnson delivered the crown for the Senators in 1924.
This franchise started out as the Montreal Expos in 1969, when the major leagues expanded beyond the border, putting a team with tricolor caps at jaunty Jarry Park.
They moved to Washington in 2005, ending the capital’s more than three-decade wait for big league baseball after the Senators left town to become the Texas Rangers.
However, the incredible path the wild-card Nationals with the curly W logo took, well, no one could have imagined.
“Resilient, relentless bunch of guys,” manager Dave Martinez said. “They fought all year long.”
Having lost star slugger Bryce Harper to free agency and beset by bullpen woes, Washington plummeted to 19-31 in late May.
It got so bad there was talk around town the Nationals might fire Martinez and trade away Scherzer.
Instead, they stuck with the mantra that sprung up on T-shirts: “Stay In The Fight.”
“That was our motto,” Scherzer said.
And months later they finished it, indeed.
“Guess what? We stayed in the fight. We won the fight,” Martinez shouted during the trophy celebration on the field. “We were down and out. We were 19-31. We didn’t quit then, we weren’t going to quit now.”
For the 43,326 revved-up fans at Minute Maid Park, it was a combination of shock and disappointment. So close to seeing the Astros win their second title in three years, they watched their chance suddenly vanish as Houston fell apart.
Washington kept pulling away after taking the lead, with Adam Eaton’s two-run single in the ninth accounting for the final margin.
Zack Greinke was in complete control until Rendon — a Houston prep and college star — hit a home run that cut Houston’s lead to 2-1 in the seventh.
When Soto followed with a one-out walk, manager A.J. Hinch decided to make a move. He had ace starter Gerrit Cole warming up in the bullpen earlier, but this call was for Will Harris.
Kendrick connected on the second pitch, slicing a drive that hit the screen attached to the right-field foul pole. Just like that, everything had changed for the team in orange that led the majors in wins and the ballpark fell silent.
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