by Stuart Kirsch
Washington, DC—They were once the Montreal Expos. They once sported such great players as Tim Raines, “Le Grand Orange” Rusty Staub, and some wisp of a pitcher by the name of Pedro Martinez. They then moved to Washington D.C. and struggled for years. But now the Washington Nationals sit on the cusp of greatness after sweeping the Arizona Cardinals in the NLCS. Instead of Raines, Staub, Martinez or Colon leading the way for the Expos, it was Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Patrick Corbin propelling the Nationals to their first ever World Series.
The tone was set in Game One when Sanchez held the Cardinals hitless through 7+ frames. That was supposed to be a probable win for the Cardinals and it put them in a 1-0 hole, for lurking in Game Two was Max Scherzer. The dominant right-hander could not match Sanchez’s output, but he tried; not ceding a hit through almost half the game.
When the series moved to D.C., the hometown Nationals fans had a chance to so something they only dreamed about in their wildest fantasies; cheer for one-time franchise savior Stephen Strasburg in a pivotal playoff game. The broad-shouldered righty struck out the side in the top of the first inning and never looked back. But then it was Patrick Corbin’s chance at greatness and feeding off the energy of the home crowd and the momentum handed to him by the other starters, he too blew his way past the bats of the Cardinals in the top of the first.
The Washington Nationals Game Four Offensive Performance for the Ages
This series though was not all about the Nationals arms; their bats did some talking too and they saved their best for the top of the first inning. The Cardinals pummeled the Atlanta Braves into submission in Game Five of the NLDS by plating 10 runs in the first frame of the decisive fifth game. Well, the Nationals saw the Cardinals game plan and decided it was a worthy feat to be replicated… and the Nationals almost did just that; the Nationals jumped down the throats of the Cardinals by sending seven runs across the dish in the bottom of the first, essentially ending the game as soon as it started.
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Or at least it seemed. While Corbin struck out 10 Cardinals through the first four innings, he finally wilted a bit in the fourth by allowing a solo home run to Yadier Molina. Then the Cardinals made it a game with three runs in the top of the fifth, with two coming home on a double by Jose Martinez. Things would stay that way until the top of the eighth when the Cardinals loaded the bases with two down and sent Matt Carpenter to the plate as a pinch-hitter. The Cardinal great got good wood on the ball but smacked a sharp grounder right to Ryan Dozier at second, who initially bobbled the ball but stayed with it long enough to make the play and end the threat.
Daniel Hudson survived the eighth and it was his job to finish the Cardinals off in the ninth. He did just that and with a lazy fly ball to center, the Nationals swept the Cardinals and sealed the first ever Word Series for the Nationals and the first world series for a team in the nation’s capital since the Washington Senators reached the World Series in 1933.
Washington Nationals World Series Odds as They Await Yankees and Astros
Now the Washington Nationals have to play the waiting game. It was not that long ago when the Washington Nationals odds to win the NL pennant were +600 and the Washington Nationals odds to win the World Series sat at +1100. That was prior to Game 4 in the NLDS against the Dodgers. But baseball is baseball and there is no clock that ever runs out. Now the Nationals hold the NL pennant for the first time in franchise history and await the winner of the Astros and Yankees.
With the Yankees ceding home field advantage after a Game Three loss in the Bronkx, the Pinstripes odds to win the World Series are +550 while the Astros are the favorites to take it all home at -105. Sandwiched between them are the Washington Nationals odds, coming it at a healthy +140. Those might seem little, but a baby (shark) bet on the Nationals now could be your chance to make the most money on the World Series.