Four cheers for baseball's new Road Warriors!

Step up and take a bow, Washington Nationals!

America’s team!

In beating the Houston Astros, 6-2, Wednesday night, the Nationals became the first World Series champion to win all four games on the road. 

Think about that for a minute. The World Series started in 1903, and in every showdown between the American and National League pennant winners the Series champion won at least one game at home.

Until 2019. 

Houston boasted the best home record in baseball this season, 60-21. The Astros were 5-1 at Minute Maid Park this post-season. Washington tied for the sixth-best home record with Atlanta and St. Louis at 50-31. The Nationals were 4-1 at Nationals Park in October.

Then the World Series started. Washington went to Houston and stunned the Astros, 5-4 and 12-3. Houston flew to Washington and won three straight, 4-1, 8-1, 7-1.  Returning home, the Astros probably ordered bubbles to celebrate their all-but-clinched World Series title.

But the Nationals – sorry, Road Warriors – had other ideas. They trailed 2-1 after the first inning of Game 6 but homered twice in the fifth against Houston ace Justin Verlander on their way to a 7-2 victory and the winner-take-all Game 7.

The Road Warriors trailed 2-0 after six and then marched into baseball history. In the seventh inning third baseman Anthony Rendon homered. Juan Soto walked, and pinch hitter Howie Kendrick sliced a two-run homer off the screen attached to the right-field foul pole. Two swings, and the Warriors were up, 3-2.

Washington scored another run in the eighth on Soto’s RBI single, and Adam Eaton drove home two with a single in the ninth.

Nats starter Max Scherzer delivered a gritty performance on the mound. After receiving a pain-relieving injection in his neck, he pitched five strong innings. Patrick Corbin threw three scoreless innings, and Daniel Hudson retired all three Astros he faced in the ninth, getting Michael Brantley on a swinging strike three on a breaking ball bound for the dirt.

These Road Warriors, 8-1 away from Nationals Park this month, also became masters of the comeback, the first team in baseball history to win five elimination games in the playoffs: the National League wild card game against Milwaukee with three runs in the eighth inning, Game 4 of the NLDS at home, Game 5 at Los Angeles on Hendricks’s 10th-inning grand slam and Games 6 and 7 of the World Series.

Let’s end with another history note. The Nationals are the sixth baseball franchise to play in the nation’s capital. Two versions of the Washington Nationals played in the 1880s. The original Washington Senators played in the American Association in the 1890s. The second Washington Senators, a charter member of the American League in 1901 and World Series champion in 1924, left for Minneapolis in 1961 and became the Twins. The second Washington Senators arrived as an expansion team in 1961, moved to Arlington, Texas, in 1972 and became the Rangers. The current Washington baseball franchise, like many DC workers, arrived from elsewhere, in this case Montreal in 2005 after the Expos folded.

Great story, right? And good news, finally, from a city that generates bad news daily, right?  Wait a minute! The Nationals wrote this story from Los Angeles, St. Louis and Houston. Road Warriors, indeed!