World Series 2019: Five Things That Could Decide Game 7

The 115th edition of the World Series will go the distance after the Washington Nationals won Game 6 in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday night.

After winning all three games in Washington to rebound from 2-0 down the Houston Astros looked on the verge of securing a second title in three seasons, but the Nationals won a third straight road game to keep the series alive.

In the history of the Fall Classic, never has a team won the series without winning a single game at home, but the Nationals have the chance to write its name into the record books on Wednesday night and secure a first title in franchise history.

Here are five points that might decide Game 7.

Road comfort

For the first time in the history of the World Series, the road team has won every game so far. The Nationals won the first two games in Houston, before the Astros took all three games in Washington. The Nationals then rebounded in Game 6 as the series switched back to Texas.

To put the feat into context, this is the first time the road team has won each of the first six games across 1,420 best-of-seven series in the MLB, NBA and NHL.

The two greatest words in sports: Game Seven. #WorldSeries

— MLB (@MLB) October 30, 2019

Road teams are on a record eight-game winning run in the World Series, stretching all the way back to Game 3 last year, when the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Boston Red Sox after 18 grueling innings.

To add a further layer of intrigue, the last three World Series to end in Game 7 have all been won by the road team. The Astros beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles two years ago, the Chicago Cubs clinched the dice in Cleveland a year earlier and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Royals in Kansas City in 2014.

Max Scherzer's fitness

Max Scherzer was scratched from Game 5 just three hours before the start of the game because of a neck spasm.

Two chiropractic sessions and a cortisone shot later, he was throwing on the field ahead of Game 6 and then loosened up in the bullpen, ready to be called upon if the Nationals needed him.

They did not. However, they will in Game 7, when the 35-year-old starts against Zack Greinke.

Scherzer pitched five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, three walks and striking out seven batters for a 3.60 ERA and his return could be crucial for the Nationals and the series, as a whole.

"It's Game 7," the three-time Cy Young Award winner told ESPN. "Let's go."

How long he will be able to pitch into the game, however, remains to be seen.

Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals reacts after retiring the side in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in Game One of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 22 in Houston, Texas. Mike Ehrmann/Getty

The Nationals' bullpen

Scherzer hasn't pitched more than seven innings since June, and while he's not played since Game 1, the neck spasm that ruled him out of Game 5 means he's unlikely to go deep in the game.

The good news for the Nationals is that aside from Stephen Strasburg—who threw 104 pitches on Tuesday—everyone else is available.

Starters Anibal Sanchez and Patrick Corbin —who has already pitched relief four times in October—will in all likelihood both be called upon at some stage.

Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson will again shoulder the burden of closing the game down.

Could Gerrit Cole pitch for the Astros?

Zack Greinke hasn't pitched five innings in his last two postseason starts and it remains to be seen whether he will do so on Wednesday.

Should the 36-year-old not be in the game for longer than five innings, Houston could even turn to Gerrit Cole.

The Astros ace delivered a masterclass in Game 5 and while he threw 110 pitches, he could be available for an inning or perhaps more.

While he struggled in Game 1, Cole dominated the Nationals in Game 5 and Washington will be hoping he doesn't take the mound.

Jose Urquidy, Brad Peacock, Will Harris, Ryan Pressly and Joe Smith are all available, as is closer Roberto Osuna—who has not pitched since Game 3.

Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros reacts against the Washington Nationals in Game Five of the 2019 World Series at Nationals Park on October 27 in Washington, DC. Patrick Smith/Getty

Fast start

Six road wins in six games may point out to a wildly unpredictable series, but the Fall Classic has been anything but so far.

In fact, it is significant to note how neither team has been able to swim against the tide during the series.

One statistic highlights this point more than any other. In Game 6, the Nationals led in the top of the first inning, then trailed 2-1 at the bottom of the opening inning before retaking the lead in the top half of the fifth inning.

Two lead changes in the same game are common currency in baseball, but it meant Game 6 had seen more lead changes than the previous five games combined.

Aside from Game 1, when the Astros took a 2-0 lead which they then relinquished, the team that has opened the scoring has gone on to win the game.

A similarly fast start could be crucial in Game 7.