World Series Game 7: You Didn’t See That Coming, Now Did You
Game 7 of the 2019 World Series had something for everyone, and a bunch of things you didn’t, dare I say couldn’t expect, like:
Yuli Gurriel striking first. Wasn’t it supposed to be Bregman, Altuve, or Springer? But no. On a low slider he must have been looking for, he put it in the cheap seats in left. This is the same guy who hit a double on a pitch high and tight from Stephen Strasburg in Game 2 that bounced off the leftfield wall.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki not in the lineup to catch starting pitcher Max Scherzer even though Scherzer’s earned run average is a full two runs better than with Yan Gomes. Nothing Suzuki could do. He was out with a strained hip flexor.
The return of small ball to the game of baseball with Carlos Correa’s hit to the right side with Yordan Alvarez on first.
The failure of small ball when Robinson Chirinos couldn’t get the bunt down because that’s not what ballplayers do anymore. Okay, I guess you could see that coming.
George Springer, the man with the highest on-base-plus-slugging percentage of any player with 50 World Series at-bats and a notorious first ball fastball hitter…. taking pitch after pitch, making Scherzer throw a strike first and parlaying that into: 0-4 with a walk.
That the patience strategy would work, the Astros’ game plan to not be aggressive with Scherzer, to not swing until a strike was called. By the third inning, Astros starter Zack Greinke had thrown 28 pitches. Scherzer: 55. The Nationals never realized that Houston was waiting Scherzer out.
The inability of the umpires to use instant replay to get the call right. Okay. Maybe this one you saw coming too as in the fifth inning, Alvarez went first to third, but his right leg flew off the bag as he slid in and his left leg didn’t reach the bag before Anthony Rendón tagged him. No matter. Despite four different camera angles, the ump in New York couldn’t figure it out.
The inability of the home plate umpire to consistently call a strike. Okay, maybe this is three things you saw coming. Jim Wolf was consistent early, and unable to call a curve ball low in the zone. But as the game progressed, Wolf, who was graded the very best at balls and strikes by Major League Baseball started missing. Three pitches to Nationals shortstop Trea Turner were balls but called strikes and they weren’t that close.
That Greinke would take a one-hit shutout into the 7th inning, with fewer than 80 pitches.
That the beginning of the end would come on a fastball mistake to Rendon.
That sometimes it’s true “everything evens out” as Greinke didn’t get breaking balls called strikes, which allowed Soto to walk, which chased Greinke from the game.
That Houston manager AJ Hinch would bring in Will Harris the night after he served up a gopher ball to Rendon, not that the rest of the bullpen turned out to be any better.
That Fox announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz would make it seem like it was going to be a certainty that Hinch would bring in Game 5 starter Gerrit Cole, even though Cole hadn’t pitched in relief since, what, that one time in college?
That Harris would throw Howie Kendrick a fastball for a strike. Kendrick couldn’t seem to believe it either, as late as he was on it. Not that it mattered as it bounded off the grate attached to the yellow right field foul pole.
That Rendon would make the Astros pay again as Roberto Osuna missed his spot with a fastball by the width of the plate.
That umpires blink during games. How else to explain Correa getting called out on strikes on a 96 mph fastball three inches off the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning?
That center fielder Jake Marisnick wouldn’t dive for a flare into the outfield off the bat of Victor Robles, with the World Series on the line or that Robles would then score on an Eaton base hit with the bases loaded after Marisnick skillet-handed it.
That the Nationals bullpen, led by starter Patrick Corbin, would go four innings, give up no runs on two hits and strike out five.
That the road team would win every game in a seven game series for the first time in any major sport.
People ask me why I love baseball. Simple. Because every year I am guaranteed to see something I have never seen before. With this series, I saw plenty that, no, I did not see coming.