Hometown villain Rendon part of World Series road magic

Houston (AFP) –


In a World Series where road teams have won every game, Houston native Anthony Rendon has sparked the Washington Nationals into a winner-take-all title showdown with his hometown Houston Astros.

Rendon blasted a two-run home run, smacked a two-run double and singled home a run in the first inning to power the Nationals over Houston 7-2 on Tuesday to level Major League Baseball's best-of-seven final at 3-3.

The Astros won an MLB-best 107 games and were expectd to rout a Nats tam that was 19-31 in May and didn't seal a playoff spot until the last week of the season.

But for the first time in any best-of-seven playoff series in MLB, the NBA or NHL, road teams have won the first six games and no one seems to know why it has gone that way.

"We don't know, but we're going to continue to try to ride this wave as long as possible," Rendon said. "Maybe they enjoy our park and maybe we enjoy their park.

"We're not going to ask questions. We're just going to try to go out there and just have some fun."

The Astros worked all season to claim the best record in baseball but have little to show for their home-field advantage for Wednesday's game seven championship decider.

"Doesn't look like there is one right now, but I hope there's one tomorrow," Hinch said. "We're waiting until the last game to have it on our side. We worked really hard to get home-field and we're happy to play at home. We have no problem playing at home. This place will be rocking."

- A 'weird' series -

The Astros have dropped three in a row to the Nationals in Houston. They haven't lost four in a row at home all season.

"This series has been very weird," Hinch said. "If I had told you the series was going to be 3-3 going to a game seven, I don't think there's a person in the building that would have assumed that all road teams were going to win.

"We've just got to make sure that last one is not the same."

Oddly enough, it's the road teams who have an edge in MLB one-game deciders.

Visiting teams are 60-57 in MLB winner-take-all playoff games, including a 20-19 mark in the World Series.

Road teams have won three straight World Series game sevens, most recently when the Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 for their first World Series title.

The Nationals are chasing the first title in the 50-year history of the franchise, which began as the Montreal Expos before moving to the US capital in 2005.

Washington has not had a World Series champion since 1924 when the Senators beat the New York Giants in game seven in 12 innings. Washington twice saw teams move away and went 33 years without a club until the Expos arrived.

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who missed a planned game five start with neck spasms, will pitch for Washington against fellow right-hander Zack Greinke for Houston in the decider.

Scherzer was benched hours before his start, given a cortizone injection and was able to work out in the bullpen during game six before Nats manager Dave Martinez shut him down after Rendon's two-run homer produced a 5-2 cushion.

"They'd probably make a movie about it," Eaton said of Scherzer's fightback to pitch Wednesday. "He could come back from the dead."

Or it could be "Mad Max: The Road Warrior."