HOUSTON – The Philadelphia Phillies may be a team of destiny.
Entering the first game of this Best of Seven World Series, the Houston Astros were undefeated this season, chewing their opponents as they did during the regular season. And this match between the Astros, number one in the MLS, and the Phillies, who finished sixth and last in the National League playoffs, looked like a mismatch.
After falling behind 5-0 on Friday, it definitely looked that way. But the Phillies, like all of the post-season, are back again. They tied the match in the fifth inning in a double by their superstar JT Realmuto. And at the top of 10th, Realmuto fired a 98-mph sprint from Astros player Luis Garcia 346 feet into right field in a home race that was a 6-5 victory difference.
“Honestly, it’s just our pleasure to put in a good swing on this pitch, so we can give our team the lead,” said Realmuto. “We did a good job fighting there.”
Realmuto went 2 vs 4 and drove in three runs while playing a solid defense in the catcher.
“I don’t think any of us have been shocked,” Bryce Harper, who was playing in his first World Series game, said of Realmuto, who has taken more innings than any baseball player this season. “He’s not just a masker, he’s an athlete.”
The Astros, though, are the juggernaut to play in their fourth World Championship in six years, while the Phillies are making their first playoff appearance in 11 years. But in the first game of this final round, the old saying may still hold true: The hottest team, not necessarily the best, wins the championship.
Sure enough, the Astros swept the Seattle Mariners and Yankees in the Divisional Series and AL Championship Series. But to get here, the Phillies went 9-2 in the playoffs, knocking out teams with records and better seeds — the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres.
“We felt a little underdog, at least we were told we were the underdog,” said Rhys Hoskins, 1st base officer. “It doesn’t necessarily suit us. We feel like we’re a good team like everyone else. I’m not saying anyone takes us lightly but I think we have the ability to beat anyone any day, and we’ve been able to do that at the start of every series.”
If there was a way to beat the Astros, the Phillies followed a scheme presented by the Washington Nationals, the underdogs who defeated the Astros in the 2019 World Series by relying heavily on a handful of top bowlers. With their wicket crew not as deep as the Astros, the Phillies need to win matches that started with their aces, Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler.
Although Nola conceded five runs over four and three innings, the Philadelphia attack weakened Astros ace Justin Verlander, who coughed five runs over five innings. By the time Nola and Verlander were out of the game, the score was even. This will then set the stage for the team coop battle and resolution.
The 19-win difference between the Astros’ 106 and the Phillies’ 87 wins is the second-largest disparity among World Championship opponents, topped only by the 23-win difference between the Chicago Cubs and White Sox in 1906. That year, he won the championship in six games.
In the first chapter of this world series, Velez played a similar role. Entering Friday, the Astros won 65 consecutive games, including postseason, when they led five or more runs. Velez was able to change that.
But long before Realmuto landed the Phillies on top, the Astros appeared to pick up where they left off in front of the Yankees in Houston’s ALCS right-back Kyle Tucker, who has led the team with 107 kicks during the season. , slammed an 89-mph interior change from NOLA to the right field seats for a single blast.
Three of the next four hitters – first baseman Yuli Gouriel, quarterback Chas McCormick, and catcher Martin Maldonado – counted and produced a run. Nola escaped further trouble when he pushed second base officer Jose Altov into double play at the end of the inning, but the Astros were already ahead, 2-0.
Later, Tucker and Astros did more damage. With two men on, Nola again attempted a floor throw inside Tucker – this time sinking 95 mph – the ball drifted over the board and Tucker sent it to the Astros bullpen in the right field. The three-time blast gave the Astros a 5-0 lead and broke out into many 42,903 attendees.
It would be enough to inundate several teams, but Velez, who have repeatedly rallied throughout the post-season, have given little thought to the deficit.
“Everyone kind of looks at each other and it’s just like, ‘Should we just go up to the club and quit and start tomorrow’s game?'” Alec Bohm, the third baseman, quipped. Is this what we should do or should we just play? “
In the fourth inning, Hoskins, Harper and right-hander Nick Castellanos made the singles, with Castellanos producing a run. Then Bohm rips a curve ball hanging from Verlander into the left field corner for a double. Within five strokes, the Phillies had trimmed their deficit to 5-3.
Verlander was finally knocked out of the role and back for the fifth inning, when things deteriorated. He coughed up quarterback Brandon Marsh and then left player Kyle Schwarber walked in. But manager Dusty Becker stuck with Verlander and that backfired.
After Verlander made Hoskins pop, he rolled another curve ball floating over the board, this time to Realmuto, who waited on it and hit it with the left center field wall for a double. At second base, Realmuto waved his hands toward the Phillies’ lair as if to indicate more noise.
Once the score tied, Phillies manager Rob Thomson sensed the urgency and began posting some of his best painkillers. He removed Nola by one in the fifth inning to bring in late reliever José Alvarado to take on the heart of the Astros lineup. It worked.
When Tucker picked one up eighth, Thompson did the same with Seranthony Dominguez, who is usually closer to Velez. Dominguez survived that inherited jam with a ground blow and a strike strike.
The Astros threatened at the bottom of the ninth inning but Castellanos saved the day. After Altuve sorted and stole the second base with a double, Peña raised a volley to the right field. Castellanos charge, slide, and catch the ball to send the game into overtime. This allowed Realmuto to take on Astros bowler Luis Garcia at the top for 10th place and send Velez to another unlikely victory.
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