A.J. Flinch.

The thrill of victory.

Now there are six.

Colorado Rockies. Milwaukee Brewers. San Diego Padres. Seattle Mariners. Tampa Bay Rays. Texas Rangers. Washington Nationals

Last night, in a 6-2 Game 7 victory in front of a stunned Houston crowd, with an assist from Houston’s manager, the Washington Nationals erased their name off the list of teams that have never won a World Series.

For the first time ever in sports, the road team won every game of a seven-game championship.

The Nationals proved they were the better of the two teams. But just to make sure, they were helped along by Astros manager A.J. Hinch and his curious decision to replace a pitcher that was dominating.

Through the first six innings, Zack Greinke was on cruise control. He had pitched to one batter over the minimum. He gave up one hit, which was quickly erased by a double play, and one walk. In fact, four batters hit weak ground balls right back to him. They were not making contact. Then, in the seventh, with one out, he gave up a home run to Anthony Rendon. No big deal, still up 2-1. 

The next batter was Juan Soto. He struck him out but the umpire missed the strike three call that was clearly in the zone, called it ball four, and Hinch panicked. 

He went to his overused, overexposed bullpen and the floodgates opened. Five more runs eventually came in. And when the Michael Brantley struck out for the final out of the game, the Nationals celebrated their first World Series championship gathered around the same mound where Hinch handed it to them. 

Of course, leaving about a dozen runners on base didn’t help either. The inability to drive in the runs when they had the opportunity created the razor-thin margin that created the panic that created the overreaction that created the bullpen collapse that created the Game 7 win for the Washington Nationals.

Saying all this in no way takes away from the National and their immensely talented team. After a 19-31 start, they were the best team in baseball. They proved it last night.

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals. 2019 World Series Champions.