Much has been written about the Washington Nationals’ World Series run last year. We all know by now that at one point the Nats were 19-31. They then clawed up the standings to earn a Wild Card spot and the rest, as they say, is history.
After winning the first two games against the Houston Astros, in the 2019 World Series, Washington dropped three straight, failing to win a single game at Nationals Park.
After winning a third game at Minute Maid Park in game six, the baseball world was set up for an exciting Game 7.
The Nationals struggled to get anything going against Zack Greinke through six innings, while Max Scherzer had been tagged for two earned runs. Going into the seventh, it was 2-0, Houston.
With one out in the seventh, Anthony Rendon finally got Washington on the board with a solo home run. 2-1. Juan Soto walked and Greinke was replaced with Will Harris.
This article is about a rivalry, so where does the rivalry come into play here? I think you know where I’m going with this.
On an 0-1 pitch, Howie Kendrick lofted a ball towards the right field corner. Harris dropped into a squat to watch the ball’s trajectory. It floated deeper and deeper into the corner, the anticipation building. Then, with a “clang,” the Astros’ newest rival had manifested itself inside its own ballpark, a staple of Minute Maid’s field of play: The right field foul pole.
Indeed, it was the Astros’ own creation which served as its demise. A ball which only traveled 336 feet sealed the World Series for the Nationals. As Kendrick screamed rounding the bases, the stadium was clad in orange, but colored stunned. Washington would go on to score three more runs, resulting in a 6-2 final.
Much has come out about the Astros since the conclusion of that Game 7, so perhaps the case could be made that Houston’s biggest rival is now Mike Fiers. But I would contend that, with Kendrick, the Nationals, and the Minute Maid foul pole working in tandem, the city of Houston, and the Astros’ organization were provided with their biggest rival of all-time.
So now, when fans return to Minute Maid, they’ll be forced to look at that pole, and perhaps see the chipped yellow paint, and know what exactly transpired there in 2019, thanks to the bat of Kendrick, and thanks to World Champion Nationals.