Ironic that, in the first World Series held in Washington DC in 86 years, that the winner of baseball's supposed popular vote-- the squad with more regular season wins-- might not win the ultimate prize.
The Washington Nationals are partaking in their first World Series, and it has gone decently so far, as they own a 2-1 series lead on the Houston Astros. Game 4 will unfold on their capital grass of Nationals Park on Saturday night (8:07 p.m. ET, Fox).
Though the Commissioner's Trophy will stay in its box tonight, Washington needs tonight's game to ensure it stays in DC.
Homefield advantage has been anything but in this World Series thus far, as the hosting team has yet to win a game. That includes Houston's 4-1 win on Friday night to put us in our current situation. The circumstances behind the defeat make it all the more important for the Nationals to earn the thus-far elusive third victory.
Friday night, despite featuring a relatively one-sided score, saw the Nationals bat 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Scary as that number is, it shows that the opportunities were there. A dozen men were left on base while Washington pitchers did a relatively decent job keeping things manageable. The chances were there. The shots were there. It's time to capitalize.
In many ways, the Nationals are in the classic "it's a win they're even here" position. They lost the face of their franchise and sat at 19-31 when America broke out their summer clothes. It's magnificent enough they made it to the Fall Classic. But with the taste of championship glory not leaving their stomachs any time soon, why NOT achieve the improbable?
Unlucky as batting last has been, the Nationals have no interest in going back to Minute Maid Park, even if it's one of the better-looking ballparks in baseball. The Astros won a whopping 60 (!) games at home this season. So the Nationals have to stifle any Houston hope while they have the opportunity. It's time to finish the job something that has been notoriously hard to do in Washington...and we're not even talking about the empty promises on each side of the political spectrum .
All postseason, the Nationals have done away with the concept of "choking". Their failure to break the bars of an NLDS prison has been long forgotten, still fueled by the joy and adrenaline of this magical run. To have it end with a blown 2-0 series lead in the final steps-- a process their divisional rivals from Atlanta know about all too-well-- would perhaps personify the franchise best.
Unless they pull one off in the most clutch and opportune of situations, it could take just nine innings to undo all that work. Saturday will bring a referendum on the Nationals. Let's see if they're up to the task.