Astros fall in seven

Posted 11/5/19

The Houston Astros dropped all four home contests in the 2019 World Series to fall to the Washington Nationals in seven games after a 107-win campaign.

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Astros fall in seven

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The Houston Astros dropped all four home contests in the 2019 World Series to fall to the Washington Nationals in seven games after a 107-win campaign.

Entering last week, the road team had never won all seven games of a playoff series in the history of the MLB, NBA or NHL. The Nationals and Astros changed that with their memorable Fall Classic.

It was also the first championship for the Nationals (known as the Montreal Expos from 1969-2004), and it came in improbable fashion. Washington was flirting with the cellar in the N.L. East for much of the early portion of the season with a record of 19-31 on May 23. General Manager Mike Rizzo added a number of key additions down the stretch en route to a 93-69 record.

The Nats won the final eight games of the regular season to secure the top wildcard spot in the N.L. After edging the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 in a one-game playoff, they defeated the highly favored Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS to advance to the World Series.

The team fought back from adversity throughout the entire season, but would have to do it one more time in game seven on Oct. 30. Zack Greinke was rolling right along for Houston and enjoyed a 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh inning.

The Nationals then found life in the form of soon-to-be World Series MVP Anthony Rendon, who hit a solo homerun with one man out. After a walk put the tying man on base, Houston manager A.J. Hinch decided to pull Greinke for reliever Will Harris instead of ace Gerrit Cole, who was available to pitch in game seven. This decision may have determined the season.

36-year-old Howie Kendrick sent a pitch from Harris down the line in right field. The slicing ball clanked off of the foul pole to give Washington a 3-2 advantage and all of the game’s momentum.

The Nationals would add three more runs in the final two innings before celebrating on the infield at Minute Maid Park and sending the fans home with a bitter taste in their mouths for the offseason.

According to Hinch, Cole was never going to enter the game in the middle of an inning. He stated that he had come to this agreement with Cole himself before the game. The Cy Young candidate has also never pitched in relief or on just two days of rest.

It is also worth mentioning that Will Harris was one of the better relief pitchers in baseball in 2019 with an ERA of 1.50 in 68 appearances. Kendrick simply came through in the clutch.

While cordial, Cole still talked about his time in Houston in the past tense during his postgame interview on Wednesday. He is set to become a free agent during the offseason. The Astros did, however, give Cole a qualifying offer on Monday for one year, $17.8 million. He has 10 days to accept or reject.

The Houston Texans made a long trip to London worth while on Sunday with a 26-3 divisional victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium.

Deshaun Watson further showcased his acrobatic abilities in the win with an impressive dump off to running back Carlos Hyde while a number of Jacksonville defenders attempted to drag him down.

He also led the Texans to the top spot in the AFC South with 201 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one of which was caught by DeAndre Hopkins. But Houston’s ground game set the tone with over 200 yards. Hyde was responsible for 160.

On the flip side, it was likely the last start at the quarterback position for Gardner Minshew. The rookie out of East Carolina took the league, and social media, by storm during his time filling in for Nick Foles.

His performance against the Texans was horrid overall, but Minshew still threw 13 touchdowns opposed to four interceptions during his eight games at the starting position. Foles is now slated to return, but it will not be the last we have heard of Minshew in a quarterback hungry league.

The Texans were able to move back into first place thanks to an Indianapolis Colts loss to the Steelers on Sunday.

Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett exited the game early with an MCL injury and would not return. Luckily, he will be back in the lineup next week. The Colts were still able to put themselves in a position to win the game with backup Brian Hoyer, but kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a potential go-ahead field goal attempt in the final seconds.

The Texans and Colts appear to be establishing themselves as the front runners in the AFC South and will likely fluctuate between first and second place throughout the year. Houston will have a difficult stretch in their next three weeks with matchups against the Baltimore Ravens, Colts and New England Patriots.

Speaking of the Ravens and Patriots, every team in the AFC now has at least one loss. Lamar Jackson and the upstart Ravens took down Tom Brady and the previously undefeated Patriots on Sunday night after they jumped out to an early 17-0 advantage.

The Ravens ran for over 200 yards against a highly dominant New England defense and forced a key fumble to stifle a second half comeback bid. Baltimore kept Brady on the sideline and Bill Belichick’s defenders sweating throughout the 37-20 statement win at home.

It was certainly a reality check for the defending Super Bowl champions, who coasted to an 8-0 record with a number of matchups against lowly opponents in the first two months. The Patriots, who battle a first place schedule every season, will face playoff contenders in each of their next four games (including Dallas and Houston).

What separates the Patriots from the rest of the league is the fact that they have absolutely nothing to prove. It is downright comical to watch certain individuals attempt to downplay an organization with eight straight AFC Championship appearances and six Lombardi Trophies by saying they do not play any good teams.

But, for whatever reason, their difficult matchups were clumped together in the middle of the season opposed to being spread out across 17 weeks. The Patriots will be just fine, but the Ravens are now hot on their trail in pursuit of the AFC’s top seed.

At 8-0, the San Francisco 49ers are now the only undefeated team in the NFL. But the surprising Niners have not exactly played the toughest schedule to this point, either. The second half of their season will include matchups against the Seahawks (twice), Packers, Ravens, Saints and Rams.

The Dallas Cowboys improved to 5-3 and stayed atop the NFC East with a 37-18 road win over the New York Giants on Monday. The win keeps them a half game ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4), who have won two straight.

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