PHILADELPHIA – Right-handed youngster Christian Javier, playing early in Game 1, showed up to a clinic one night when Houston needed something good, throwing six rounds in Philadelphia to start the first non-strike team game in World Series history.
Javier’s outing helped the Astros take a 5-0 World Championship win in a Classic 4 game. Brian Abreu hit the side in the seventh inning, Rafael Monteiro worked 1-2-3 and then Ryan Presley lifted the Astros to the history books with a smooth ninth run.
Only Don Larsen of the Yankees threw a single hitter at the World Championships. That was a perfect game in Game 5 in 1956, when famous catcher Yogi Berra jumped in his arms to celebrate. On Wednesday, Houston hunter Christian Vasquez chose the shooters with whom to celebrate.
Javier started hot and got on fire as his pitches piled up. principle in Houston combined no hitter at Yankee Stadium Earlier this summer, Javier walked twice and hit nine and was not threatened by Velez.
And it came on a night when the Astros needed a champ.
Urgency steals the world championship overnight as an unwelcome intruder. High hopes and rampant expectations bring easy color in the first couple of days. But a very big loss, and suddenly, the nights turn to anxiety and the days are rough.
The Astros were pushed to that brink Wednesday after clubbing in Game 3. The team that reached the world championships unbeaten, left talk of just one victory in Philadelphia to force the trip home. Can the Astros answer the wake-up call? Can they move their bats in time?
Javier made that time in the fourth game. He’s outdone the Philadelphia squad with a furious ace looking to save fall.
When Javier wiped out the Phillies, the Astros hitters kept spinning the combination lock that served as their attack until the correct numbers came up. The team that finished third in MLS by number of goals and scored this season fell into a 16-game drought that began in Game 2 and extended through the first four rounds of Game 4. The frustration was palpable. The Astros were 0 versus 4 with two contestants in the scoring position.
Then, finally, the breakthrough came on the fifth. Three consecutive bachelors held the bases and ended Philadelphia novice Aaron Nola’s night. As he did in Game 1, Phillies manager Rob Thomson forcefully called for left-back Jose Alvarado, who usually plays later in the games, to come face-to-face with left-back Jordan Alvarez.
It worked in Game 1, when Alvarado caused a popup and suppressed the Astros.
But on Wednesday, Alvarado Alvarez drilled his first pitch, a 99-mph fastball. That forced into Houston’s first round, and the halftime would deteriorate from there for Phillies.
Although Alvarado jumped ahead of the next hitter, putting Alex Bergman on the 0 and 2 hole, Bregman fought back with a two-round double to push Houston’s 3-0 lead. Kyle Tucker’s sacrifice flies and Yuli Gurriel’s RBI song to extend it to 5-0.
The way Javier was promoting was all Houston needed. With each hit, any idea of Justin Verlander failing to take a 5-0 lead in favor of the Astros in Game 1 waned farther and farther.
Although he didn’t get the ball until Match 4, Javier has only given up once since September 8th. The 25-year-old signed by the Astros as an uncertified free agent outside the Dominican Republic in 2015, played off the field as a youngster and didn’t move into promotion until he was 16.
He hit a career high of 25 games this summer and worked in five more games comfortably. He led the MLS in batting averages this summer (.170) among those with at least 130 runs, and ranked second in hits per nine innings at 11.74.
This is the one against Velez. During one span covering the fourth and fifth rounds, he cheered on five consecutive hitters – JT Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm and Bryson Scott.
He only allowed two primary contestants during his six innings: a walk to Harper in the second and a solo walk to Brandon Marsh in the third. Two hits and a fly-pop to the shortstop left Harper stranded. Hitting the offending ball and knockout is the same with Marsh.
This was all the Astros needed, especially because more ominous signs of a lack of viability were flashing early on. Tucker started the second half with a double hook at the right corner of the field. It was Houston’s first extra base hit since Bergman’s fifth inning in Game 2. But the Astros, needing early momentum to change the tone for this series, missed the opportunity.
Tucker moved into third place on the globe for Goriel. Nola, who had thrown 18 of his 22 hits when Tucker doubled down and showed precise control, then hit the Vasquez with a pitch to put the Astros in first and third. But then he cheered on Aledmys Díaz with an 88-mph curve ball, then threw another curve into Chas McCormick’s goal for the third hit to finish the inning.
At that point, it looked as though Nola, not Javier, would be this evening’s story. But there was a long way to go, and Javier simply got better and better.
“There’s more urgency,” Houston City manager Dusty Baker said before Game Four, mostly in response to a question hinting at whether he’d have a faster hook with his bar than he did in Game 3 7-0. But at the same time, there is a difference between urgency and panic. There is a fine line between “m”.
Then, Javier consolidated wise ideas step by step one night when the Astros needed everything they could get their hands on.
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