Astros Game 7 What Went Wrong

Drake Drymond, Head Editor

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The World Series was on the line. Zach Greinke had been dominant all night. He had gone through the Nationals lineup twice with no issues; his pitch count was low, and he had given up only a single hit and walk as he approached the mound for the top of the 7th inning. Then with 1 out he left a changeup in the heart of the plate, and Houston native Anthony Rendon playing for the Nationals sent it into the stands to cut the Astros lead in half. Following a Juan Soto walk, Greinke was pulled by Manager A.J. Hinch in favor of reliever Will Harris. Harris threw 5 pitches. Over the course of those 5 pitches the Astros 2-1 lead and momentum were subsequently erased by a Howie Kendrick 2-run home run. None of those pitches should’ve ever happened. 

Although the Astros would go on to surrender 3 more runs over the course of the next 2 innings to lose the World Series 6-2, all of the Astros trouble stemmed from the moment Hinch decided to take Greinke out of the game. Despite being in a rough spot, Greinke and the Astros were still in decent shape following the 1 out walk. All year Greinke had been great at getting himself out of tough situations, and the World Series had been no different. His pitch count was low and this was the first trouble he had run into all night. If Hinch had more faith in Greinke, and kept him in, he would’ve likely been able to finish out the inning with no more damage done, and the Astros would have maintained a 2-1 lead. 

Another major question surrounding Manager A.J. Hinch was the use, or lack thereof of Gerrit Cole. In the 5th inning Cole was warming up in the bullpen. It seemed as if the Astros were preparing to send out the best pitcher in baseball to maintain the team’s lead before sending in a closer or 2 to seal the deal. But Greinke remained in the game into the 7th inning, and Cole never made an appearance on the mound. This was a foolish mistake. Hinch should’ve planned to bring in Cole at the start of an inning- a common strategy by managers so as to give a pitcher who normally starts games a similar feeling for a relief appearance. In this case Hinch should’ve trusted his starter Greinke to be able to get out of a jam and finish out the 7th inning, then brought out Gerrit Cole-the most dominant pitcher in baseball- for 1 inning of work, followed by either Roberto Osuna or Josh James to close out the game. Instead we got 5 pitches and 2 runs surrendered by Will Harris, Osuna an inning early who gave up 1 more run, then Ryan Pressly, and Joe Smith who gave up the final 2 runs putting the Astros in a 6-2 deficit. All the while the best pitcher in Baseball- Gerrit Cole- was forced to watch from behind the bullpen fence; his impeccable talent going unused in the biggest game of the year. 

While the misuse of pitchers by A.J. Hinch deserves most of the blame for the World Series loss, he doesn’t bear it all alone. The Astros offense was a mess, leaving 10 runners stranded on base is unacceptable and was an issue that plagued the team throughout the postseason and ultimately came back to cost them a second World Series title.