In 2017, following the fourth division title and fourth NLDS loss, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said that the organization needed to find a way to take the next step and win a World Series Championship in the nation’s capital for the first time since way back in 1924, when the original Senators beat the New York Giants with a 4-3 win in Game 7 at home in Griffith Stadium.
“Our expectations have grown to the fact that winning a lot of regular season games and winning divisions are not enough,“ Rizzo said. “Our goal is to win a World Championship.”
Davey Martinez came in talking about wanting to take a team that was already capable of doing it to the next level.
“I think moving forward, this team doesn’t lack much. It really doesn’t,” Martinez said in his introductory press conference in November of 2017.
“I think that we’ve just got to get over the fact that we’re not here just to win a playoff game, we’re here to win the World Series.”
Martinez’s club didn’t make the postseason in his first season as a manager at any level of the game, an 82-80 campaign in 2018, and they started 2019 with 31 losses in the first 50 games, but the Nationals got healthy after some early injuries to key players, went on a 74-38 run, beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game, then beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in five in the NLDS, before sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
They fell behind 3-2 with two wins in Houston and three straight losses in Nationals Park, then took Games 6-7 on the road.
Trailing 2-0 in Game 7 in Minute Maid Park, with Astros’ starter Zack Greinke rolling through 6 1⁄3 scoreless, Anthony Rendon hit a solo home run to left field on a 1-0 changeup, Juan Soto walked, and with reliever Will Harris on the mound, Howie Kendrick homered on an 0-1 cutter he hit out to right for a go-ahead blast that made it 3-2 in what ended up a 6-2 win.
Max Scherzer, pitching days after a nerve issue in his neck kept him from going in Game 5, held the Astros to seven hits, four walks, and the two earned runs. Patrick Corbin tossed a scoreless inning before the offense struck, and two more after that before Daniel Hudson’s scoreless ninth wrapped things up.
From 19-31 to the World Series? 5-0 in elimination games in the postseason? Four wins on the road in the Fall Classic?
“This year, I can honestly say nothing would have surprised me,” Martinez said after the win last night.
And to get there from where they started?
“These guys, we stuck together,” the second-year manager added. “They believed in each other. I believed in them. And I told them before the game, I said, ‘Hey, I want you guys to just treat this as just another game, it’s Game 184, which is hard to do.
“I said, ‘But we made it this far, just play one more game. One more 1-0,’ and they did that tonight.”
“He’s the Manager of the Year,” Rizzo told MASN’s Bob Carpenter on the field after the win.
“He willed us here. He got us here, and it was a labor of love for both of us, and we’re a pretty good team.”
Asked what it meant to bring a World Series championship to Washington, Rizzo said, “It means a lot.
“It means everything. For my dad who’s been doing it a long time, ‘Dad, we did it. Won it.’ It feels good.”