The Washington Nationals notched their first World Series victory in franchise history following their 5-4 win over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the Fall Classic on Tuesday night.
Juan Soto, 20, hit a solo home run in fourth inning at Minute Maid Park in Houston, becoming the second youngest player to homer in his World Series debut (Atlanta Braves’ Andruw Jones).
The left fielder drove in three runs and is the youngest player in postseason history to have three RBI and a stolen base in a game.
Washington’s Max Scherzer pitched five innings, gave up two earned runs and struck out seven to pick up the win. Meanwhile, Houston starter Gerrit Cole lost for the first time since May 22. Before Tuesday, he had gone 19-0 during that stretch with a 1.59 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP and 258 strikeouts in 169 1/3 innings in 25 starts, including the playoffs.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Houston.
The 115th World Series pits a potential dynasty against, well, perhaps destiny.
The Astros are trying to win their second World Series in three seasons, while the Nationals — in their first Fall Classic in franchise history — will attempt to complete one of the most improbable comebacks in baseball, becoming the fourth team in MLB history to reach the World Series after being 12 games under .500 during the season. It’s the first World Series appearance for a team from the nation’s capital since the 1933 Washington Senators.
The Astros are in their third World Series in franchise history, having reached the series in 2005 and winning it all in 2017. Having won 107 games in the regular season, the most in MLB this year, Houston is a heavy favorite. In the playoffs, the Astros held off the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series and defeated the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
While the Astros were predicted throughout the season to get this far, the Nationals were on more uneven footing.
After Bryce Harper left for the Philadelphia Phillies for a 13-year, $330 million deal, the Nationals started the season 19-31. But the Nationals have been on a tear. Since May 24, they’ve had the best record in baseball. They finished the regular season with 93 wins and snagged a wild card spot.
After coming back to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wild Card Game, Washington shocked the NL favorites, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the division series and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
The Nationals became the ninth team in MLB history to come back from 12 games under .500 to make the postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They join the 2005 Astros, 1973 New York Mets and 1914 Boston Braves as the only teams to make the World Series after dipping to 12 games below .500 during the season.
After recent years of postseason failure, could this be Washington’s year? The San Francisco Giants are the last wild card team to win a World Series, in 2014.