World Series Game 6: Nationals defeat Astros to force Game 7

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor

There will be a Game 7 in the 2019 World Series.

The Washington Nationals forced the decisive season finale by defeating the Houston Astros 7-2 in a game that made up for the lack of drama throughout most of the first five games in the series.

There was the bat-carrying battle between Alex Bregman and Juan Soto. There was the controversial interference call on Trea Turner that threatened to derail a Nationals seventh-inning rally and ultimately led to the Nationals’ attempting a protest. Though he didn’t pitch, there was a surprise Max Scherzer appearance in the bullpen two days after being scratched from a start with neck spasms. There was a raucous Houston crowd hoping its energy would will a World Series celebration.

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In the end, it was Washington’s will that prevailed as the Nationals won their fourth straight elimination game this postseason to force the 40th Game 7 in World Series history on Wednesday night.

Anthony Rendon (right) and Juan Soto drove in seven combined run in the Nationals World Series Game 6 win. (Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
Anthony Rendon (right) and Juan Soto drove in seven combined run in the Nationals World Series Game 6 win. (Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

And if it’s anything like Game 6, it will be an instant classic.

Anthony Rendon got the scoring started with a single through Houston’s shifted infield. That was just the beginning of a massive game for Washington’s All-Star third baseman. The Astros immediately countered with two runs against Stephen Strasburg in the bottom half following a George Springer double, a Jose Altuve sacrifice fly and an Alex Bregman home run that raised the ire of baseball purists because he decided to carry his bat all the way with him to first base.

That moment prompted a response from Washington’s Juan Soto, who four innings later carried his own bat all the way to first base following a go-ahead home run. Soto’s blast followed Adam Eaton’s game-tying home run off Justin Verlander.

The game’s two biggest hits were both delivered by Rendon. In the seventh inning, he smashed a two-run home run to extend the Nationals lead and lessen the impact of the earlier interference call. Then in the ninth, he put the game away with a two-run double.

Stephen Strasburg made the support stand up, pitching 8 1/3 innings of two-run ball before turning it over to closer Sean Doolittle.

WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE

• Anthony Rendon: The free agent-to-be extended his Nationals’ career at least one more game with a big night at the plate. He now has seven hits in the series and seven RBIs.

• Juan Soto: The 21-year-old slugger hit his third home run of the World Series, proving again that no moment is too big for him. Though he struggled when the series moved to Washington, he’s still hitting .333 with six RBIs.

• Stephen Strasburg: He outpitched Justin Verlander again and has looked like the best pitcher in a series filled with aces.

MUST-SEE MOMENT

There was no shortage of must-see moments in Game 6.

The controversial interference call stands out among them all. Here it is.

WHAT THEY'LL BE TALKING ABOUT

Batgate: The Alex Bregman-Juan Soto bat controversy has already earned its share of headlines. It’s a World Series moment that will be talked about for a long time.

The interference call: Though it didn’t impact the outcome, it will be difficult for MLB viewers to move on without thinking about the interference call on Trea Turner at first base. The call led to an ejection, an attempted protest and an over five-minute delay so the umpires could confirm the call was not able to be reviewed or protested.

Justin Verlander: For the third time this postseason, Verlander didn’t have his best stuff in a possible closeout game for Houston. In those starts, Verlander has allowed 11 earned runs, with eight of those coming in the first inning.

Road Warriors: With Washington’s win, road teams are now 6-0 in this World Series.

WHAT'S NEXT

It all comes down to this. Game 7 of the World Series will be played on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. First pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on Fox.

After being scratched from his Game 5, Max Scherzer is expected to start this do-or-die clash. He has not pitched since allowing two runs in five innings in Game 1. The Astros will counter with Zack Greinke, who allowed 10 baserunners but only one run over 4 2/3 innings in Game 3.

It's a Game 7 though, so short of Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg you can expect all hands to be on deck for both teams.

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