2022 World Series

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2022 World Series
Houston Astros logo
2022 World Series logo
Philadelphia Phillies logo
Houston Astros
106 - 56 in the AL
4 - 2
Series Summary
Philadelphia Phillies
87 - 75 in the NL

Overview[edit]

The 2022 World Series featured an unprecedented match-up at this stage, with the Houston Astros, champions of the American League, facing the Philadelphia Phillies, representing the National League. However, the two teams had met in the 1980 National League Championship Series, considered by many to be the most thrilling postseason series ever played; the Phillies had come out on top that time on their way to winning their first-ever World Series title. The Astros were overwhelming favorites, having won 106 games during the season while the Phillies had snuck into the postseason only thanks to its expansion by one team this year. Their 87 wins was one of the lowest total for a World Series team in the 162-game era, and the difference of 19 wins between the two teams was also one of the largest ever. In terms of experience, the difference was also stark, with Houston making its fourth appearance in the Fall Classic in six years, while the Phillies had not been there since 2009. For all that, the Phillies had the most titles - two to Houston's one.

The Series was the first in 72 years not to have a US-born African-American player on either team. Astros Manager Dusty Baker was African-American however, and looking for his first-ever World Series title in 25 years as a manager, having been on the losing side on two previous occasions. In another marked contrast, Rob Thomson of the Phillies had not even one full season as a manager under his belt, having named the interim replacement for Joe Girardi on June 3rd (the interim tag had since been lifted); he was also the first Canadian to manage a team in the World Series, but it was not his first time at the dance, as he was a coach for the 2009 New York Yankees who had defeated the Phillies in their most recent appearance on this stage.

The series also featured two of the best mascots in Major League Baseball (and arguably in all professional sports): the Phillie Phanatic and Orbit.

The Astros came out on top, four games to two, winning the final three games starting with a historic combined no-hitter in Game 3 and limiting the Phillies to just three runs over those three contests. The Astros' rookie shortstop, Jeremy Peña, who continued with his knack for getting key hits at key moments, as he had done all postseason, was named the winner of the Willie Mays Award as the series' Most Valuable Player.

The Teams[edit]

Astros The Astros had been the class of the American League, winning the AL West by a whopping 16 games, and then winning all seven of their postseason games entering the series, with a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners in the Division Series, and a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Already considered a dynasty, they were looking to add a "clean" title to their legacy, as their 2017 World Series win had been retrospectively tainted by the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. They were also trying to win one for manager Dusty Baker, one of the most universally-respected figures in the game.

The Astros' strength lay first of all in their starting pitching, as they dominated the regular season by featuring five excellent starting pitchers, all making 25 or more starts, at a time when most teams had difficulty finding even three reliable starters. They were Justin Verlander (18-4, 1.75), the overwhelming favorite to win the Cy Young Award; Framber Valdez (17-6, 2.82) with a record 25 consecutive quality starts during the season; Luis Garcia (15-8, 3.72); Cristian Javier (11-9, 2.54); and Jose Urquidy (13-8, 3.94). Even with such an embarrassment of riches, Baker was likely to tap a sixth man for one of the starts, Lance McCullers (4-2, 2.27 in 8 starts) who had come back from late in the season from a shoulder injury and pitched brilliantly. That also meant that if Houston was ever to need an outing in long relief, there were plenty of great candidates, as had been the case when Garcia had gone five innings in the marathon Game 3 win in the Division Series. The bullpen was also quite good, featuring closer Ryan Pressly (33 saves and a 2.98 ERA) and set-up men Rafael Montero (2.37), Bryan Abreu (1.94), Ryne Stanek (1.15) and Hector Neris (3.94), so the loss of Phil Maton, who had stupidly broken his own hand late in the season in frustration over surrendering a hit to his brother Nick (ironically a member of the Phillies, although also not on the postseason roster), was only a minor issue.

The Astros had featured some excellent hitting during the season, even if the postseason thus far had been more characterized by timely hits than by numerous ones. Their best hitters were LF/DH Yordan Alvarez (.306 with 37 homers), 3B Alex Bregman (23 HR, 93 RBI) and RF Kyle Tucker (30 HR, 107 RBI), forming the heart of the batting order. There were usually plentiful runners to cash in with 2B Jose Altuve (.300 with 28 homers and 103 runs) and rookie SS Jeremy Peña (22 HR, 72 R) acting as the table setters, and 1B Yuli Gurriel still a dangerous hitter at 38 even he had slipped to 8 homers and a .242 average. The rest of the line-up, particularly C Martin Maldonado and CF Chas McCormick were there first of all for defensive purposes, a move that was justified given that the Astros were one of the best defensive teams in the majors as determined by defensive efficiency. To summarize, this team was a juggernaut, and it was no fluke that it was still unbeaten in the postseason heading into the World Series.

Phillies In contrast to the Astros, the Phillies had not been expected to reach the World Series (the Dodgers and the Braves were the clear favorites from the start of the season until the postseason got under way), but they had managed to upset two division winners, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Braves, in the first two rounds, before quickly disposing of the San Diego Padres in a battle of underdogs in the NLCS. One of the reasons the Phillies had barely made it into the postseason was how poorly they had played for the first two months under manager Joe Girardi, being 7 games under .500 when he was fired, before Thomson managed to turn things completely around; they had played very well ever since, even if their poor start had hidden that to a certain extent.

The Phillies had an excellent one-two tandem of starting pitcher with Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.82) pitching like an ace and Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25) pitching much better than his win/loss record for the second straight year. But after that, it was more iffy: Ranger Suarez had gone 10-7, 3.65 to be the third starter, but had made one good and one bad start in the postseason, and after him neither Bailey Falter (6-4, 3.86) nor Noah Syndergaard (10-10, 3.94 including his time with the Los Angeles Angels) inspired Phillies fans with much confidence if they needed to make a start. Two other starters, Zach Eflin (3-5, 4.04) and Kyle Gibson (10-8, 5.05) had been moved to the bullpen for the postseason, but neither was there to pitch in high-leverage situations. The bullpen featured two reliable arms in José Alvarado (3-5, 3.43, 12 saves) and Seranthony Dominguez (6-5, 3.00, 9 saves) and a lot of the question marks. Alvarado and Dominguez had received the bulk of the high-leverage assignments in the first three rounds, but there was a risk of wearing them out over a long series, forcing Thomson to turn to Brad Hand (3-2, 2.80, 5 saves), once a top closer but now completely unpredictable, and Andrew Bellatti and Connor Brogdon, who were normally reserved for less stressful situations.

The Phillies did have a strong offense and it had been on full display in the first three rounds. First was DH Bryce Harper, unable to play the field due to a shoulder injury, the reigning NL MVP, who had batted .286 with 18 HRs and 65 RBIs in just 99 games. Other big bats were LF Kyle Schwarber (46 HR and 94 RBIs), batting lead-off in spite of a .218 average thanks to his capacity to draw plentiful walks, RF Nick Castellanos (.263, 13 HR, 62 RBI), C J.T. Realmuto (.276, 22 HR, 84 RBI), 1B Rhys Hoskins (.276, 22 HR, 84 RBI) and 3B Alec Bohm (.280, 13 HR, 72 RBI). With the middle infield tandem of 2B Jean Segura and rookie SS Bryson Stott not being easy outs either, one could argue that the Phillies had a deeper line-up than the Astros. The issue was that this came at the cost of defense: while Realmuto and CF Brandon Marsh were both excellent defenders, the rest of the team was not, with Schwarber, Castellanos and Hoskins all definitely sub-par and the team as a whole having one of the lowest defensive efficiency ratings of any team to reach the World Series since 2000. This was probably the area where the contrast between the two protagonists was the most vivid.

Umpires[edit]

Chad Fairchild and Carlos Torres were the replay officials.

Series results[edit]

Game Score Date Starters Time (ET)
1 Philadelphia Phillies 6 Houston Astros 5 October 28 Aaron Nola (0-0) Justin Verlander (0-0) 8:03 pm
2 Philadelphia Phillies 2 Houston Astros 5 October 29 Zack Wheeler (0-1) Framber Valdez (1-0) 8:03 pm
3 Houston Astros 0 Philadelphia Phillies 7 November 1 Lance McCullers (0-1) Ranger Suarez (1-0) 8:03 pm
4 Houston Astros 5 Philadelphia Phillies 0 November 2 Cristian Javier (1-0) Aaron Nola (0-1) 8:03 pm
5 Houston Astros 3 Philadelphia Phillies 2 November 3 Justin Verlander (1-0) Noah Syndergaard (0-1) 8:03 pm
6 Philadelphia Phillies 1 Houston Astros 4 November 5 Zack Wheeler (0-2) Framber Valdez (2-0) 8:03 pm


Results[edit]

Game 1 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Phillies 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 6 9 0
Astros 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 10 0
WP: Seranthony Dominguez (1-0); LP: Luis Garcia (0-1); SV: David Robertson (1)
Home Runs: HOU - Kyle Tucker 2 (2); PHI - J.T. Realmuto (1)
  • Attendance: 42,903

With Game 1 taking place on October 28th at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX, the World Series matched the 2009 edition for the latest starting date in history, the result of delays caused by the rescheduling of games lost to the 2021-2022 lockout; it also resulted in a Friday night first game, instead of the traditional Tuesday. Both teams were coming off a long lay-off, having last played on October 23rd when they clinched their respective League Championship Series. There was no question of playing the game with the roof open, not because of the recriminations of New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, but because rain had been pouring all day in Houston. The Phillies had originally been expected to start Zack Wheeler, who had been their #1 starter in the previous rounds, but picked their co-ace Aaron Nola instead, while Houston as expected went with veteran Justin Verlander, still looking for his first career World Series win. The ceremonial first pitch was delivered by former Astros great Terry Puhl, a veteran of the mythic 1980 ALCS confrontation with the Phils.

It is fair to say that after three innings, the game appeared to be a blowout in the making. On the one hand, Nola had been in trouble all three innings and given up five runs, while Verlander had mowed down all nine Phillies batters he had faced in order. Nola's trouble began with a two-out walk of Yordan Alvarez in the 1st, although to be fair it was more a question of being prudent with Houston's most powerful hitter than a loss of control. He then got Alex Bregman to pop out to end the inning. In the 2nd, however, he gave up a homer to deep right field to the first man he faced, Kyle Tucker, for the first run of the game, after which the bottom of the order gave him more trouble. Yuli Gurriel followed with a single to center, and after one out he moved to third on a single by Chas McCormick. C Martin Maldonado, the Astros' weakest hitter, was up next, but he perfectly executed a hit-and-run with two strikes, lining a ground ball in the spot deserted by 2B Jean Segura for another single that scored Gurriel with the second run and moved McCormick to third. With just one out, Houston threatened to put up a really big number on the scoreboard, but Nola escaped by getting Jose Altuve to hit his next pitch straight at SS Bryson Stott, who started an inning-ending double play. More trouble followed in the 3rd, though, with a leadoff double by Jeremy Peña, a grounder to third by Alvarez on which 3B Alec Bohm made a great play to throw him out at first (he was called safe at first, but the Phillies challenged and the video replay showed that the throw had just beaten Alvarez to the bag). Nola then walked Bregman, and after sawing Tucker's bat in half on a foul ball, he was taken deep again by the Astros' right fielder, this time for a three-run shot. It was 5-0 and the Astros appeared to be in complete control.

Things started unraveling for the Astros almost immediately after that high point. Verlander retired Kyle Schwarber on a fly ball to start the 4th, but Rhys Hoskins ended the streak of ten straight outs with a single, and J.T. Realmuto followed with a line drive straight at Verlander's glove. In what was one of the game's key plays, Verlander dropped the ball, when a catch would have turned into a certain double play as Hoskins was in no man's land between first and second. Still, Verlander picked up the ball and calmly threw out Realmuto for the second out. But the Phillies then came through with a series of clutch hits that turned the game around. Bryce Harper singled sharply to right, so sharply in fact that the Phillies stopped Hoskins at third base even though he was running on the hit with two outs. This looked like a missed opportunity, but Nick Castellanos hit another single, and this one drove in a run. Bohm then followed with a double to the left field corner, and by the time Alvarez recovered the ball, both runners had scored to make it 5-3. After a perfect 4th inning by Nola, the Phillies were back at it in the 5th with a lead-off double by Brandon Marsh, a walk to Schwarber, and after one out, a two-run double by Realmuto. It had only taken the Phillies four outs to erase a 5-0 deficit, and suddenly, it was a close game. Incidentally, the last team to blow a five-run lead in the World Series had been the Dusty Baker-managed San Francisco Giants in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.

It would remain a close game until the end. Having expended a lot of pitches in the first three innings, Nola was removed after one out in the bottom of the 5th, even if he had retired the last six batters he had faced. With two of the next three batters coming up being lefties, Rob Thomson made a bold decision, bringing in one of his two premium relievers in lefty José Alvarado. It worked perfectly as Alvarado needed just seven pitches to get the next two batters, Alvarez and Bregman, and start off the 6th by getting Tucker to fly out. Meanwhile, Baker had also removed his starter, Verlander, who had also needed a ton of pitches to get through the 4th and 5th innings, and brought in Bryan Abreu, who retired the Phillies in order in the top of the 6th. After Alvarez left, his mission accomplished, Zach Eflin was brought in and he made things exciting by giving up a single to Gurriel and a two-out walk to McCormick, but Bohm made another fine play at third base, cutting off a sharply-hit ball by Maldonado that would have resulted in two runs if it had got by him, and throwing out the slow-footed catcher on a bounce throw to 1B Hoskins. It was then the Phils' turn to waste a great opportunity, in the 7th, when Schwarber singled with one out, and stole second with two outs, taking the Astros completely by surprise, before Abreu issued back-to-back walks to Realmuto and Harper to load the bases. Baker brought in Hector Neris to face Castellanos, and he got out of the mess by striking him out. In the bottom of the inning, Thomson repeated the strategy that had worked so well in the 5th, bringing in a lefty to face the tough middle of the Astros' order after Eflin had recorded the first two outs. This time, it was putative Game 3 starter Ranger Suarez who was summoned, and he struck out Alvarez to end the inning, before retiring Bregman to start the bottom of the 8th and giving up a single to Tucker. Thomson now asked his other high-leverage reliever to come in, and Seranthony Dominguez ended the inning with a force out and a ground ball. That came after Rafael Montero had thrown a perfect top of the inning.

In the 9th, with a save opportunity no longer a possibility, this being a home game, Baker asked his closer, Ryan Pressly, to come in to pitch, and he made quick work of the Phils, who had now made seven straight outs since stranding the bases loaded in the 7th. In the bottom of the inning, Altuve hit a two-out single and stole second, but Dominguez got Peña to fly out to end the inning as Castellanos made a great tumbling catch in right field, preventing the winning run from scoring. The game headed into extra innings, and the Astros appeared to have the advantage since they still had a number of excellent pitchers left to use, while the Phillies were down to some of their less-palatable options. But on the field, it did not matter in the end. Luis Garcia, who had pitched brilliantly in extra innings in Game 3 of the Division Series, came out for Houston, but the first batter he faced, Realmuto, took him deep to right field for a solo homer, putting the Phillies ahead for the first time in the game, 6-5. Harper followed with a single, but the next two batters grounded out, and Baker asked Ryne Stanek to pitch with a man on second. He walked Stott but ended the inning by getting Segura to line out to third. The game was still close when the unpredictable David Robertson came out to attempt to close out the one-run lead. He struck out Alvarez, but Bregman followed with a double. Tucker struck out as well, but Robertson then walked Gurriel to put the potential winning run on base as well. With Trey Mancini due up, Baker sent in Aledmys Diaz as a pinch-hitter. With a 2-0 count, he was hit by one of Robertson's pitches, apparently loading the bases, but umpire James Hoye intervened, ruling that Diaz had deliberately leaned into the pitch, and that it was only ball three. That did not make the situation much easier, but Robertson managed to induce a ground ball to third base, and Edmundo Sosa, in as a defensive replacement for Bohm - who, let's not forget, had already made two outstanding plays in this game - threw him out at first base to end the thrilling game. Whatever was in store next, it was not going to be the expected cakewalk for Houston.

Game 2 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Phillies 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 6 1
Astros 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 x 5 7 2
WP: Framber Valdez (1-0); LP: Zack Wheeler (1-0)
Home Runs: HOU - Alex Bregman (1)
  • Attendance: 42,926

The Astros won Game 2 behind a great performance from their starting pitcher, Framber Valdez, and putting a lot of runs on the board early - not that that particular strategy had worked in Game 1. The difference was that Valdez held the early lead, and while the Phillies kept on stirring, especially in the final four innings, they could not close a five-run gap for the second time in as many games. It was a nicer day in Houston weather-wise, but the roof was again closed, and two team legends took care of the ceremonial first pitch, with Craig Biggio sending the toss to Jeff Bagwell, then sitting down to watch the game together from the stands. Both managers made changes to their starting line-ups, with Rob Thomson inserting a couple of right-handed bats at the bottom of his batting order in CF Matt Vierling and SS Edmundo Sosa against the lefty Valdez, and Dusty Baker moving Yordan Alvarez from left field to DH, and Aledmys Diaz replacing Trey Mancini in the line-up. This meant that a batter who had gone 1 for 15 in the postseason replaced another who was 0 for 16 - not necessarily a huge improvement. For the Phillies, Zack Wheeler started the game after giving his spot to Austin Nola in Game 1.

The Phillies' batters all went into deep counts against Valdez in the 1st and made him work, but the only baserunner was Rhys Hoskins with a one-out walk, in an inning that would set a pattern for all of Valdez's 6 1/3 innings on the mound. He would need a lot of pitches - 104 in all - but kept throwing strikes, ending up with 9 strikeouts. He did walk three batters, but only allowed four hits (three singles and a double) and was always in complete control, the only run against him scoring after he had left the game. The contrast with Wheeler's performance was dramatic. His first four pitches went like this: double to the gap by Jose Altuve; double to the wall by Jeremy Peña, resulting in a first run; foul ball by Yordan Alvarez; and double by Alvarez, for a second run. Wheeler managed to settle down after that initial barrage, getting Alex Bregman to ground out and Kyle Tucker to fly out to center, but Alvarez advanced to third base on the out. Yuli Gurriel then hit a perfectly routine ground ball to SS Sosa, but he rushed his throw which reached 1B Rhys Hoskins on a short bounce. Most first basemen would still have caught the ball to end the inning, but Hoskins was not able to corral it and a third run scored on the error, one that really hurt, as it was a pure giveaway.

The Phillies were unable to get anything going against Valdez, stranding a runner on base in the first three innings before going down in order in the 4th. Meanwhile, Wheeler had settled down, also giving up only a pair of walks and a single, with one of the runners erased on a double play, from the 2nd to the 4th. In the 5th, it was the Phillies' turn to ground into a double play, but in the bottom of the inning, the Astros struck again, with a single by Altuve, who was now clearly out of the slump that had plagued him in the first two rounds of the postseason, leading things off. After one out, Alvarez hit a grounder to 3B Alec Bohm, but SS Sosa was unable to turn two; in fact, it looked as if he was not in contact with the bag when he accepted Bohm's relay. The Astros challenged the out call, but it was upheld as the replay did not clearly show that Sosa had failed to maintain contact with the bag. In any case, the following batter, Bregman, hit a long homer to left-center field on a two-ball count, and the lead was now 5-0. The Phillies had come back from such a deficit the day before, but it was not something teams did every day (a graphic showed that there had been only five such comebacks in the history of the Fall Classic, including the previous night's game). They did start a push in the 6th by getting a lead-off walk from Kyle Schwarber followed by a single by Hoskins, but Valdez struck out Realmuto and then induced Bryce Harper to ground into a double play. It was however a sign that the Phillies would not go down meekly, as they threatened in each of the final four innings.

Thomson replaced Wheeler with Andrew Bellatti in the 6th, and even though he did not use his two best relief pitchers on the night, each of the three hurlers he called on was very good as the Astros managed only one hit over their final three turns at bat - a lead-off single by Altuve against Connor Brogdon in the 7th, after which Altuve was caught stealing - with Brad Hand being the third member of the trio. This meant that all the action happened when the Phillies were at bat, and this made the Astros' fans increasingly nervous. In a bit of a surprise move since he was getting close to 100 pitches, Valdez returned to start the 7th, but he was immediately greeted by a double off the bat of Nick Castellanos - the first extra-base hit by the Phillies. Castellanos moved to third on a ground out by Bohm, after which Baker brought out Rafael Montero to pitch. Concentrating on the batter and not the runner, he got Jean Segura to fly out to left, but Castellanos scored the Phillies' first run on the resulting sacrifice fly. In the 8th, Bryson Stott led off the inning as a pinch-hitter for Sosa and after a protracted 12-pitch battle that featured five consecutive foul balls, managed to draw a walk. Schwarber was up next and crushed a pitch down the right field line, near the top of the foul pole. Right-field umpire James Hoye initially called it a homer, but no one was convinced, not even Schwarber, and a review by the umpires confirmed that the ball had gone just foul. The score went back from 5-3 to 5-1, and Schwarber hit another pitch solidly, but just a tad too close to his wrists. It was caught by RF Tucker just in front of the wall. Schwarber had missed two homers in the same at-bat by a combined total of maybe three feet. Montero had dodged a bullet, but his work wasn't over. He struck out Hoskins, but Realmuto hit a grounder up the middle. Peña made a nice play to reach the ball, but when he tried to flip it to Altuve to attempt to get Stott at second, Altuve had given up, expecting a throw to first, and was nowhere near the bag. The ball fell into no man's land between second base and the mound. Realmuto was safe on a single and Stott made it to third on the error charged to Peña. Harper had another chance to put the Phillies right back in the game, as had been the case in the 6th, but he wasn't able to pull it off, popping up to shallow right field as Peña almost collided with Tucker while Altuve pulled off, with Peña catching the ball while avoiding a potential three-way collision in the outfield that would have spelled mayhem. The Phillies had one more turn at bat, against closer Ryan Pressly, and once again made the local fans sweat. Castellanos struck out to lead off the 9th, but Bohm followed with a double. After a second out, Brandon Marsh hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to first, but now it was the usually sure-handed Gurriel who misplayed it, letting the ball bounce off the top of his glove and into right field as Bohm scored to make it 5-2. That would be the final score, however as Stott grounded out to Altuve at 2B, and this time everyone played it correctly to end the game. The two teams would head to Philadelphia tied at one win apiece.

Game 3 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Phillies 2 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 x 7 7 0
WP: Ranger Suarez (1-0); LP: Lance McCullers (0-1)
Home Runs: PHI - Bryce Harper (1), Alec Bohm (1), Brandon Marsh (1), Kyle Schwarber (1), Rhys Hoskins (1)
  • Attendance: 45,512

Game 3 was originally slated to take place on October 31st, but steady rain on that day accompanied by a forecast of continuing rain through the evening led to an early decision to postpone it by one day. As a result, the Phillies changed their scheduled starter, who had been Noah Syndergaard, replacing him with Ranger Suarez, who was now sufficiently rested following his relief appearance in Game 1. For their part, the Astros stayed with Lance McCullers. While the skies had cleared after the 24-hour wait, it was the Phillies who put on a thunder and lightning show, tying the World Series record for most homers in a game with five. They only managed two other hits, but it did not matter, as the game was out of reach by the end of the 2nd inning. For his part, McCullers set a new record by giving up all five of the long balls, as he appeared to be tipping his pitches, since the Phillies' hitters were crushing his usually effective curveball. The Astros had made one change to their line-up, inserting rookie David Hensley at DH after failing to receive any production from either Trey Mancini and Aledmys Diaz throughout the postseason. In the pre-game ceremonies, the Phillies invited all-time greats from the city's four major sports teams to throw the ceremonial first pitch, all of them having been part of championship teams. They were Mike Schmidt representing the Phillies, Bernard Parent from the NHL's Flyers, Julius Erving from the NBA's 76ers, and Brandon Graham from the NFL's Eagles. Catching them were four members of the Phils' 2009 championship team. The atmosphere was electric at Citizens Bank Park and it became even crazier during the 1st inning, which went about as well as any Phillies fan could have dreamt.

Suarez made quick work of the Astros in the top half of the 1st: on his first pitch, Jose Altuve lined out to right, with Nick Castellanos making another great sliding catch, his third such grab of the postseason; on his second pitch, Jeremy Peña hit a high bouncer to shortstop on which Bryson Stott made a nice play to throw him out by a hair; and he then took an 0-2 advantage on Yordan Alvarez before striking him out on a curve ball on his seventh pitch of the at-bat. McCullers did not fare so well. Kyle Schwarber worked a lead-off walk then after two outs, Bryce Harper stepped into the batter's box to a standing ovation, as it was the first time he was coming to bat in his home park since his dramatic home run in the 8th inning of Game 5 of the NLCS. On the first pitch he saw, he destroyed the ball, bat meeting ball sounding like a thunderclap as RF Kyle Tucker did not even move, the ball landing well into the stands. The ballpark was shaking as 40,000+ fans were jumping up and down in unison. If there ever was a killer blow in the 1st inning of a game, this was it. The Phillies would not look back.

In the 2nd, the Astros put a couple of men on base, but only after two outs, as would be the case for most of the game. Still, there were runners on the corners - Yuli Gurriel at third and Hensley at first - when Chas McCormick came to bat, but Suarez kept his cool and struck him out on five pitches to end the threat. And then the lightning show started again in earnest. First up in the bottom of the 2nd was Alec Bohm, and he lined McCullers' first pitch to left center for a solo homer, which incidentally was the 1,000th in World Series history, dating back to the one hit by Jimmy Sebring in Game 1 of the 1903 World Series. After two outs, Brandon Marsh hit a high fly ball that bounced over the top of right field railing above the fence as Tucker thought he had a play. A quick video review confirmed that the ball, which had bounced back on the field, had indeed left the yard, for a 4-0 lead. Things settled down for a spell after that, as both pitchers were perfect in the 3rd and 4th innings. Suarez gave up a two-out walk to McCormick in the 5th, but nothing else, and it was then that McCullers put his name in the record books, much against his will. Marsh singled with one out, and Kyle Schwarber followed with the fourth long ball of the evening, into the pines in deepest center field, pushing the lead to 6-0. There was a mound visit, but Dusty Baker decided to leave McCullers in the game, and the very next batter, Rhys Hoskins, homered on a line drive to left field that was hit extremely hard, but barely rose above the height of the fence. It was 7-0, McCullers was finally removed from the game, and even though there were still four innings to play, the game was basically over.

The large lead meant that neither manager needed to use his prime relievers for the rest of the game, a big consideration coming into the contest. Ryne Stanek completed the 5th for Houston and was followed by Jose Urquidy, who had not seen any game action for a month. He looked a bit rusty, giving up a single to Castellanos and a walk to Bohm, the first two hitters he faced, but then settled down, not giving up a run in spite of a wild pitch later in the inning. He then pitched the 7th and 8th without allowing another baserunner, as the Phillies were not looking to increase their lead anymore. For his part, Rob Thomson decided to use four of his second-tier relievers for one inning each, starting off with Connor Brogdon in the 6th, and followed by Kyle Gibson in the 7th, Nick Nelson in the 8th and Andrew Bellatti in the 9th. The Astros had also pretty much given up on this game by this time. They hit a single in both the 6th and 7th innings, without any consequence, drew a couple of walks in the 8th, prompting a mound visit, but without cashing in either of the runners, then went down in order in the 9th. The Phillies were still unbeaten at home in this postseason while the Astros would need to start winning quickly.

Game 4 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 5 10 0
Phillies 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
WP: Cristian Javier (1-0); LP: Aaron Nola (0-1)
Home Runs: none
  • Attendance: 45,693

The Astros responded to their humiliation in Game 3 in the most emphatic way possible - by no-hitting the Phillies in Game 4, in their home ballpark no less. In what was likely to become one of the most memorable games in the history of the Fall Classic, Cristian Javier, the most underestimated member of Houston's outstanding starting rotation, was absolutely brilliant, not only keeping the Phillies from getting any hit through the first six innings, but not allowing a single well-hit ball (apart from one foul ball) and striking out nine batters. He needed 96 pitches to get through those six innings, as the Phillies' batters showed the patience that they had displayed throughout the postseason, and as a result he could not continue deeper into the game. However, it is hard to question Dusty Baker's decision to take him out at that point, as he would have needed at least thirty more pitches in the best of circumstances to complete the feat - something that was never going to happen, especially not with Javier being needed to start a potential Game 7 if the series went that far. Baker had been in that situation before, on June 25th in one of Javier's starts against the New York Yankees at New Yankee Stadium and had made exactly the same decision. In that game, Javier had reached his pitch count limit after striking out 13 batters over seven hitless innings, and he had turned to Hector Neris and Ryan Pressly to complete the no-hitter. He would make the same decision today, with the same successful result. In the society column, two members of the Phillies' 2008 championship team, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, threw out the ceremonial first pitch, while First Lady Jill Biden was present for the annual "Stand Up to Cancer" tribute, held in the middle of the 5th inning, paying tribute to her son Beau Biden, who died of a brain tumor.

Javier's opponent on the mound was Aaron Nola, starting for the second time of the series thanks to the rainout that had pushed back Game 3 by one day. He was better than in his first outing, but the roof completely caved in on him and the Phillies in the 5th inning, resulting in five runs, and the rest of the game was spent wondering whether the Astros would realize their date with history. There were two changes to the starting line-ups, with Baker using Christian Vazquez at catcher in place of Martin Maldonado and once again inserting Aledmys Diaz in left field with Yordan Alvarez at DH, in the hope that someone would finally give him some production from that slot of the line-up; it did not work, though, and Diaz was well on his way to wearing the goat's horns in this game before the Astros broke open the game in the 5th inning. Nola was not dominant over the first four innings, but did enough to keep the Astros from scoring. He gave up a two-out single to Alvarez in the 1st, but left him stranded, then faced a more difficult situation in the 2nd. Kyle Tucker led off that inning with a double to right and advanced to third on a ground out by Yuli Gurriel. Nola then hit Vazquez with a pitch to put a second runner on, but Diaz failed miserably in an at-bat in which some situational baseball was needed, striking out by lunging at a couple of pitches well outside the strike zone, and Nola ended the threat by striking out Chas McCormick as well. In the 3rd, the Astros went down in order, but in the 4th, Gurriel singled with two outs as did Vazquez, but once again, Diaz stranded a pair of baserunners with a soft ground ball to SS Bryson Stott. In contrast, the Phillies could not generate anything against Javier: Bryce Harper did lead off the 2nd with a walk and then stole second when Alec Bohm struck out for the second out, but Javier got Stott to pop up to shortstop. In the 3rd, Marsh drew a one-out walk and for a moment it looked like Kyle Schwarber had put the Phillies on the scoreboard when he lined a ball down the first base line that would likely have allowed Marsh to circle the bases. However, RF umpire Dan Iassogna called it foul, and it did look like it hooked just to the right of the first base bag. It was the only hard-hit ball against Javier all evening, and after the foul ball call, Schwarber struck out with Marsh stealing second, and Hosking popped up harmlessly to end the inning.

The roof completely caved in on Nola and the Phillies in the top of the 5th. McCormick led off the inning with a single to shortstop, and Jose Altuve followed with another single. Next up was Jeremy Peña who failed in his mission to lay down a bunt but then singled to left to load the bases with nobody out. Sensing that Nola had been walking a tightrope for most of the game thus far, Rob Thomson went to his bullpen, calling in one of his best relievers in Jose Alvarado to face Alvarez. It was a bold decision, and potentially one that could have saved the game, but it all went wrong immediately. Alvarado's first pitch, a 99 mph fastball, hit Alvarez square in the hip, forcing in the first run of the game. Bregman was up next, and he hit a double to the right field corner to score two more runs. Tucker followed with a sacrifice fly to center on which Bregman also advanced to third with some aggressive baserunning, and he scored when Gurriel followed with another single. It was now 5-0, and the game was essentially over given the way Javier was pitching and the fact that Baker had all of his top relievers available if need be. The Astros' batters did not do much else after that five-run outburst, but it was not necessary in any case.

While the game's outcome was not in doubt, everyone in the ballpark was aware that the Phillies were still hitless, and that would keep up the interest until the end of the game. Javier was absolutely dealing by this point, moving his pitches all around the strike zone, up, down inside and outside, and keeping opposite hitters completely off-balance. He got two more strikeouts in the bottom of the 5th, and another weak pop-up by Stott. In the 6th, it was more of the same, with three ground balls, none of them likely to cause trouble. But the Phillies' hitters had been disciplined all game, even though the results weren't there, so it was almost a foregone conclusion that Javier would not return for the 7th. He could possibly have faced one or two more batters before his pitch count got out of hand - but what would have been the point? So bringing in the hard-throwing Bryan Abreu was not a hard decision. And Abreu came out definitely fired up, using top-quality gas to strike out the heart of the Phillies' batting order in the 7th. Down went J.T. Realmuto, Harper and Nick Castellanos in order, and only six more outs were needed. Rafael Montero, coming off a superb year as the #2 man in the bullpen, took care of the 8th, not as spectacularly as Abreu but just as efficiently: Bohm struck out on a foul tip, Stott flied out to center, and on the hardest-hit ball since Schwarber's 3rd-inning foul, Jean Segura lined out straight at RF Tucker, who did not even have to move to make the catch. With history on the line Pressly then came out for the 9th; it was not a save situation, but the pressure on him was probably higher than it would have been in a one-run game. But he came out throwing some filthy breaking stuff to strike out Marsh, then got into a protracted battle with Schwarber in which he used all of his arsenal of pitches - only to walk him. It was the Phillies' first baserunner since Marsh in the 3rd, but it would not matter. Rhys Hoskins followed with a routine fly ball to Tucker for the second out and on Pressly's next pitch, Realmuto hit a grounder to third base that Bregman had no trouble fielding and throwing to Gurriel at first to retire Realmuto by a wide margin. The no-hitter was complete and the series was tied again.

It was truly a historical effort, only the second no-hitter in World Series history, after Don Larsen's perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, and the third in postseason play, with Roy Halladay's gem in Game 1 of the 2010 Division Series being the other (ironically, Baker had been the manager on the losing side in that game, which had also taken place at Citizens Bank Park). And of course the fact that Javier and Pressly had been part of an eerily similar game earlier in the season also made this game historic, as no pitcher had ever been part of two combined no-hitters in major league history - never mind two in the same season! Javier had been the first pitcher to go six hitless innings in a World Series game since Jerry Koosman in Game 2 of the 1969 World Series and he and Larsen were now the only two pitchers to pitch hitless ball in a World Series start of six or more innings. For the postseason, Javier had now allowed all of two hits in 12 2/3 innings.

Game 5 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 9 0
Phillies 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 6 1
WP: Justin Verlander (1-0); LP: Noah Syndergaard (0-1); SV: Ryan Pressly (1)
Home Runs: PHI - Kyle Schwarber (2); HOU - Jeremy Peña (1)
  • Attendance: 45,693

In a bizarre scheduling quirk, Game 5 was scheduled to start in Philadelphia at exactly the same time as the Philadelphia Eagles visited the Houston Texans in an NFL Thursday Night game. It was another unseasonably warm and pleasant night in Philly and once again the Phils called on stars from their last championship in 2008 to handle the ceremonial first pitch, with closer Brad Lidge delivering the ball to catcher Carlos Ruiz. The game itself turned out to be a very close one, decided by a single run and highlighted by some stellar defensive plays. In the end Houston prevailed, 3-2, and gave starting pitcher Justin Verlander his first win in nine career World Series starts, giving him the one thing that was missing from his impressive resumé. Indeed there was some speculation that this game could well be the final one of his illustrious career and that he may decide to now await his induction in Cooperstown from the comfort of retirement. His opponent, Noah Syndergaard, was a story of perseverance, having made his only previous World Series start as a rookie surrounded with tremendous hype with the New York Mets in 2015, and then seeing his career derailed within a few years by a series of arm injuries. The man taking the mound today was a different pitcher, without the overwhelming fastball that had once upon a time made him dominant, a pitcher now getting by on his knowledge of pitching but also one who was unlikely to take more than one turn through the Astros' line-up before giving the ball to the bullpen.

Both pitchers had a difficult 1st inning. For Syndergaard, he allowed a double to center to José Altuve on his second pitch of the game and to compound things, usually reliable CF Brandon Marsh misplayed the hit, allowing Altuve to end up on third base. The ever-dangerous rookie Jeremy Peña followed with a single through a drawn-in infield two pitches later, and one can forgive Phillies fans for their unfortunate flashbacks of Game 2. But Syndergaard managed to settle down, with a strikeout of Yordan Alvarez coinciding with Peña being caught stealing at second base, and Alex Bregman striking out as well. For his part, Verlander also took a while to get into a groove. The first man he faced, Kyle Schwarber, took him deep to right field on his second pitch for his second homer of the series, and the game was tied at 1. Bryce Harper then drew a two-out walk and would end up being the first of twelve runners left on base by Phillies batters in the game, a number that goes a long way towards explaining their lack of success in this game. In the 2nd inning, Syndergaard retired the Astros in order, but Verlander once again had to work hard, giving up a two-out single to Jean Segura followed by a walk to Marsh and another to Schwarber that loaded the bases. Rhys Hoskins had a chance to do some serious damage, but he struck out swinging to end the inning. A similar scenario played out in the 3rd: a perfect inning by Syndergaard to make it eight straight outs, and more Phillies on base with a one-out walk to Harper, then after Nick Castellanos crushed a pitch that was caught by a leaping Peña at short, Alec Bohm singled to left to put a second runner on base. But once again, the big hit did not come as Bryson Stott hit a fly ball to right.

It was therefore 1-1 after three innings, and Syndergaard had pitched much better than Verlander thus far. If Rob Thomson had adhered to a pre-written plan, he would have taken out his starter at that point, with a big pat on the back, but he decided to let him go a little further, and it turned out to be one batter too many. Peña, who had hit a key homer in the both of the Astros' two previous series, did it again in this game, hitting a fly ball to left. Schwarber seemed to be under it and ready to make a catch , but he ran out of room as the ball fell one row deep into the stands for a solo homer that gave Houston a 2-1 lead that would hold until the end of the game, making Verlander a winner. In the immediate, it spelled the end for Syndergaard who gave way to Connor Brogdon. The new pitcher gave up a one-out double to Bregman, but then struck out the next two batters. For his part, Verlander had finally found his groove, and retired the Phillies in order in the bottom of the inning. Brogdon then retired the Astros in order in the 5th and Verlander struck out the first two men he faced in the bottom of the inning before Harper doubled on a very hard-hit ball to right field. However, Castellanos came up on the short end of a long battle with Houston's ace, flying out to left on the tenth pitch of the at-bat to end Verlander's outing on a positive note. Once again, Thomson did not hesitate to use his front-line relievers early, sending Jose Alvarado to handle the 6th with a one-run deficit. He had to work a bit, as he allowed a single to lead-off man Altuve and hit Bregman with a pitch with two outs, but he got Kyle Tucker to ground out to first to end things. Houston's first reliever was Hector Neris, and he also gave up a lead-off single, to Bohm, then after two outs gave way to Bryan Abreu, one of the three men who had completed Cristian Javier's no-hitter the night before. Like Alvarado in Game 4's fateful 5th inning, he plunked a batter with his first pitch - in this case Marsh on the left knee - but it was of no consequence as it only put a second man on base for Schwarber to strand when he grounded out to Altuve.

After six innings, the score was still 2-1 in Houston's favor as Philadelphia had now wasted a large number of opportunities to add to its tally. With Alvarado having needed a lot of pitches to get through the 6th, Thomson brought in a well-rested Seranthony Dominguez for the 7th, but he also had to work hard. Yuli Gurriel greeted him with a bloop double on a ball that looked to be eminently catchable. But CF Marsh had a bad jump, then attempted a diving grab but came up just short. Facing David Hensley, the latest man to attempt to resolve Houston's designated hitter woes, Dominguez threw a wild pitch, moving Gurriel to third. The Phillies once again brought in their infielders, but this time it worked as Hensley hit a grounder to short on which Gurriel could not advance, and Chas McCormick followed with another grounder, this one to 3B Bohm. Gurriel tried to advance on this one, but was caught in a rundown between third base and home, and in trying to escape the pickle, twisted his knee before being tagged out by Hoskins. While McCormick advanced to second on the play, the Astros could not score as Maldonado ended the inning with another ground ball, this one to short. Gurriel stayed in the game for the bottom of the inning, during which Abreu flashed some 100 mph heat and retired the Phils in order, but the discomfort in his knee would affect him later. In the top of the 8th, the Astros scored an important insurance run when Altuve led off with a walk and Peña sent him to third with a single. David Robertson replaced Dominguez with an impossible mission on his hands, and while he got Alvarez to ground out to first base, Altuve scored and Peña took second. Bregman then drew a walk to put a second man on, but Houston could not break the game open: Tucker flied out to right, but while Peña advanced another 90 feet, he was stranded there when Trey Mancini, pinch-hitting for the ailing Gurriel, struck out after Bregman had stolen second base.

The Phillies finally managed to cash in a runner in the bottom of the 8th, but it wasn't enough as they were now down by two runs. Castellanos drew a lead-of walk against Rafael Montero, another of the "no-hitter boys", then advanced to second on another walk, this one to Stott after one out. Segura finally broke the Phillies' skein of not getting a hit with a runner in scoring position as he singled to right, scoring Castellanos to make it 3-2, and moving Stott, representing the tying run, to third base with only on out. Dusty Baker decided to pull out all the stops at this point, bringing out his closer, Ryan Pressly, for what would be a five-out save. He struck out Marsh for out number two and then Mancini, who had taken over at first base after pinch-hitting for Gurriel, grabbed a screaming line drive from Schwarber, falling on the bag in one motion, to end the inning. Had the ball gone through, the game would have been tied. In the 9th, Zach Eflin, facing the bottom of the order, gave up a couple of singles but was saved when Altuve grounded into an inning-ending double play with 3B Bohm stepping on the bag and throwing to first base. Pressly needed to get three more outs, and started off by striking out Hoskins but J.T. Realmuto hit a ball to deep center on which McCormick made a magnificent catch, leaping and crashing into the fence, then ending up flat on his back, but somehow managing to keep the ball in his glove. Pressly then plunked Harper but ended the game by getting Castellanos to ground out to short to preserve the 3-2 win. The Philies had had plenty of chances, but the two teams headed back to Houston with the Astros one win away from the championship.

Game 6 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Phillies 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 1
Astros 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 x 4 7 0
WP: Framber Valdez (2-0); LP: Zack Wheeler (0-2); SV: Ryan Pressly (2)
Home Runs: PHI - Kyle Schwarber (3); HOU Yordan Alvarez (1)
  • Attendance: 42,958

After a travel day, the two teams met again in Houston under a closed roof, to complete the series. The Astros got some bad news before the game, as Yuli Gurriel was ruled out of the rest of the series due to the knee injury he had sustained while running the bases in Game 5. He was replaced on the roster by third-string catcher Korey Lee, who was unlikely to see any action, but whose presence on the roster allowed Dusty Baker to use back-up catcher Christian Vazquez as his DH, now that he had an insurance policy in case of an injury to Martin Maldonado. He also had no choice but to start Trey Mancini at first base, even though he was still hitless. On the mound, both managers could send out one of their best starters, with Framber Valdez going for Houston and Zack Wheeler for Philadelphia. With a lefty on the mound for Houston, Rob Thomson used his platoon line-up with Edmundo Sosa at shortstop and Matt Vierling in center field.

The game started off as a pitchers duel, with no scoring in the first five innings. After his disastrous 1st inning in Game 2, Wheeler was back to his old form, with a much better fastball than in that game, and he was in fact, if anything, more impressive than Valdez through those five innings, as he was working very efficiently, and no one was hitting his pitches with any authority: he walked Kyle Tucker in the 2nd, but he was erased on a double play; he gave up a single to Mancini to lead off the 3rd, but he was erased on a force out; and Jeremy Peña led off the 4th with another single but was stranded as well. Valdez had to work a lot of harder to achieve the same result. He walked the first batter of the game, Kyle Schwarber, but forced Rhys Hoskins to ground into a double play, then plunked J.T. Realmuto with a pitch before getting Bryce Harper to ground out. He gave up a single to Alec Bohm in the 2nd, then walked Vierling with two outs before Sosa hit a ball solidly to left field. Sosa was convinced the ball was gone, but it went into the corner formed where the Crawford Boxes end and the wall suddenly juts back by 15 feet, and as a result, LF Yordan Alvarez was able to catch the ball at the wall, saving two runs. Valdez then settled down, striking out the next six batters in order in the 3rd and 4th, although he needed a lot of pitches and seemed not to be on the same page with catcher Maldonado, repeatedly shaking him off.

All of the runs in this game were scored in the 6th inning. First, for the Phillies, Schwarber led off by getting around on an inside fastball and pulling it deep into the right field seats for a solo homer. However, Valdez settled down again and retired the next three men, finishing the inning by striking out Harper. By now, though, he was at 93 pitches and was most likely done for the evening, having provided his manager with an excellent outing even if the Astros were trailing at that point. The first batter for Houston in the bottom of the 6th was Maldonado, and he stepped up to the plate with a clear plan: he wanted to be hit by a pitch. He was standing almost on top of the plate, his feet a good six inches closer to the plate than in his previous at-bat, and about as close to the line demarcating the batter's box as can be without being called out. And he got his wish, being hit on the elbow by Wheeler's third pitch. This was the third momentous hit batsman of the series, after Aledmys Diaz had been hit in the 9th inning of Game 1, but it was not allowed as he had leaned into the pitch, and Alvarez had driven in the go-ahead run in the 5th inning of Game 4 by being hit on the hip with the bases loaded. This hit-by-pitch was closer to Diaz's, in that not only had Maldonado made no effort to get out of the way, but he was almost standing in the strike zone - the key word being almost. The Phillies protested, but Maldonado was allowed to take his base. He was far from the first batter to exploit this loophole in the postseason, because before Diaz had failed in his attempt to do so, Anthony Rizzo of the New York Yankees had turned this into an art form, and it was likely to be a subject for discussion at the upcoming winter meetings lest it become a generalized habit. In any case, the next batter was Jose Altuve, and he came very close to making it all moot when he hit a ground ball to 3B Bohm, who retired Maldonado at second. However, Altuve managed to beat the relay to first by half a step, averting a double play, so there was still a man on with one out. Next up was Peña, who had already come up big time and time again during big moments in this postseason, and he did it again with a single up the middle, advancing Altuve to third base. There was still just one out and the Phillies were hanging on to a 1-0 lead.

Now came a moment that was almost a carbon copy of Game 6 of the 2020 World Series when Kevin Cash had removed starter Blake Snell, who was dealing, to bring in a reliever who promptly coughed up a 1-0 lead as the Tampa Bay Rays lost the game and the series. Thomson made the same decision and the results were even worse. There is a phenomenon in modern baseball that one could call the "relief pitcher paradox". That is that relief pitchers generally have better ERA's than starters - even though they are clearly inferior pitchers. For example, if you were to start a team and had a choice to pick either Wheeler or Jose Alvarado as one of your players, there is no question that you pick Wheeler, who is one of the top starters in baseball, an All-Star, and someone that can be counted on to pitch deep into games. In contrast, Alvarado, like most relievers, is a failed starter with a limited arsenal of pitches. But he gives the illusion of being a better pitcher - like most other relievers - because he is used in situations that maximize his strengths: he rarely pitches more than one inning, is quickly removed when he gets into trouble, usually starts an inning when there is no one on base and often in cases when the upcoming batters give him a platoon advantage, and has a well-defined mission to accomplish. All of that works to give the relief pitcher better statistics - but not because he is a better pitcher than the starter. Another advantage is that nowadays, a starter is almost never removed before he is nearing his pitch count limit, unless he is being battered by opposing hitters, so the decision between a tiring starter and a fresh reliever is even more obvious. One additional factor is that this pitch count limit will normally be reached around the time the pitcher faces the batting order for a third time, so as as a result that has also become a mantra ("Never let a pitcher face the batting order a third time"). So it seemed a given in the situation we were in that Thomson should remove Wheeler. But, like Blake Snell two years earlier, Wheeler was clearly not tired - he had only made 70 pitches - was not being hit hard, and had handled the next two batters, Alvarez and Alex Bregman, with ease thus far. On the other hand, Alvarado, the lefty, had been excellent during the season, but not by coming in in the middle of the 6th inning with runners on, but as part of a structured bullpen. And not only had his most recent appearance under such conditions, in Game 4, been a disaster, it was against the very same batters. And for anyone who thought the Phillies were gaining a platoon advantage, let them be reminded that Alvarez had hit a monstrous homer to turn around Game 1 of the Division Series against a lefty (Robbie Ray) and had an OPS above 1.000 facing southpaws. Thomson had been successful on a few occasions this postseason by making a bold and unconventional decision; this time, it did not work at all. Not at all. Alvarez fouled off Alvarado's first pitch, the next two pitches missed the strike zone, then Alvarado came back with a fastball (Statcast called it a sinker that did not sink) and it was absolutely crushed. Officially, it traveled 450 feet, landing in the distant seats above the batter's eye in furthest center field; had there not been anything to stop it, it probably would have landed 500 or so feet from home plate. It was one of the most impressive home runs one can ever witness and it absolutely destroyed the Phillies. Just like that, the score was 3-1, and the ballpark was in absolute mayhem. Alvarado was visibly shaken, but with the three-batter rule in effect, he had to pitch to Bregman, and he walked him. Then, facing Kyle Tucker, he threw a wild pitch, letting Bregman take second. He did manage to find enough composure to strike out Tucker, but it took eight pitches, and he looked absolutely spent. Thomson had no choice but to bring in his other top reliever, Seranthony Dominguez, to finish the inning, but before Dominguez could do that, he allowed a single to Vazquez to make it 4-1. Now, a one-run deficit was going to be hard to overcome given the Astros' shut-down bullpen; a two-run deficit was a major task; but being three runs down, it was basically game over for the Phillies.

Now Baker turned to his bullpen. Contrary to Thomson, he did not do it by choice, but because Valdez had expended all of his pitches, and he could use his relievers in the roles they were used to filling. He also had four shut-down relievers available (plus various and sundry other very good pitchers that he was unlikely to need) to go three innings - and with a three-run lead. In other words, he was in the driver's seat, and the rest of the game went exactly as he had planned it, except for one inconsequential incident. Hector Neris, who had not had a chance to join in in the Game 4 no-hitter, was the first man tabbed, and he got through the 7th on a fly ball and two strikeouts. Bryan Abreu was given the 8th, and he also retired the side in order. The incident came in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Bregman hit a ball down the left field line and ran full out for second base. Schwarber, who had bobbled a couple of hits earlier in this game, made a perfect play this time, cutting off the hit and making a perfect relay to second base. Bregman was originally called safe, but the Phillies challenged the called and the super slow-motion replay clearly showed Bregman's extended hand hitting something as it reached to touch the bag - namely Jean Segura's glove with the ball in it. It also showed one of Bregman's fingers bending back in an unnatural way as it hit the hard obstacle. He was called out and took his position in the field in the bottom of the inning, but it was revealed that, like Gurriel in the previous game, he had suffered an injury - a broken finger in his case - and would not have been able to continue if the Phillies had extended the game. But the minor miracle that would have been needed to do that against lights out closer Ryan Pressly did not happen. Pressly got Hoskins to fly out to right field, but Realmuto managed a single for the Phils' first baserunner since Schwarber's 5th-inning homer. But with a three-run lead, Pressly barely noticed him. He got Harper to fly out on a routine play to left and then Castellanos to pop up down the first base line in foul territory. Tucker ran to flag it down and the game was over. The Astros were world champions.

Dusty Baker took the time to calmly write down the final out on his scoresheet, and then was mobbed by his coaches and players. His 2,093 regular season victories as a manager to that point were the most by anyone without a World Series title - but the drought was now over. At 73, in his 25th season, he had finally led a team to the promised land. There were three viable candidates for the World Series Most Valuable Player Award: Valdez, who had won two games in convincing fashion; Pressly, who had not given up a run all postseason and in three consecutive outings had 1) completed a no-hitter, 2) recorded a five-out save with a one-run lead, and 3) nailed down the Series win; or rookie Peña who had come up with big hits time after time while also excelling on defense. In the end the honor went to Peña and it was well-deserved. This also marked the first time that a team clinched a World Championship at home since the 2013 Boston Red Sox, and the celebrations were appropriately loud and raucous at Minute Maid Park. The mood was not so happy in Philadelphia, as the city became the first to lose two major North American sports championships on the same day: earlier in the day, the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer had lost the championship game to Los Angeles FC on penalties.

Miscellaneous[edit]

Much of the talk following the Astros' victory focused on whether this win, which was clearly untainted, was redemption for their less-savory trophy earned at the height of their sign-stealing and trashcan-banging days in 2017. Most commentators came down on the side that this was a largely different team (there were only five players remaining from the 2017 team), and that their feat of reaching the World Series four times in six years was a remarkable one at a time when building a dynasty was harder than ever.

While it was noted everywhere that Dusty Baker was the oldest manager to win a World Series title at 73, it was less noted that he was only the third African-American to do so, following Cito Gaston and Dave Roberts.

The World Series parade took place in Houston, TX on November 7th, following a straight three-mile stretch of downtown Smith Street - double the length of their 2017 parade. Classes were cancelled in three local school districts to allow parents to bring their kids to attend the event, while local buses and light rail trains were free to encourage attendees to take public transit (not necessarily a normal reflex in a city built around the private car). A conservative estimate put the crowd that attended the parade at one million persons, while more generous ones stated that as many as two million may have been present.

One super Astros fan, known as Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale won a record $75 million payout by betting a total of $10 million on Houston winning the World Series, including some large pre-season bets with long odds that correctly identified the Phillies as the team they would beat. A furniture dealer, Mattress Mack had offered any customer who had purchased $3,000 or more worth of merchandise at his store a full refund if the Astros won. The reimbursement of these customers ate up almost all of his earnings, but the publicity and good will generated was priceless.

The winners share given to members of the Astros was $516,347 per person, coming from a record pool of $107.5 million, up 19 percent from the previous year's pool of $90.5 million. This was a result of increased revenues from the creation of the Wild Card Series. The Astros issued 59 full shares and 14.14 partial shares, plus $940,000 in cash awards. For their part, the Phillies issued 72 full shares worth $296,255 each, plus 15.03 partial shares and $20,000 in cash awards.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Anthony Castrovince: "Astros-Phillies position-by-position breakdown", mlb.com, October 24, 2022. [1]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "Out of this World! Astros finish off Phils for Series title: Alvarez adds another heroic twist in clincher; Baker wins first championship as manager", mlb.com, November 6, 2022. [2]
  • Zach Crizer: "World Series: Astros claim post-scandal championship and make dynasty case by toppling Phillies in Game 6", Yahoo! Sports, November 6, 2022. [3]
  • Mark Feinsand: "Astros receive biggest postseason shares in MLB history", mlb.com, November 22, 2022. [4]
  • Thomas Harrigan: "Astros-Phillies WS matchup features historic win disparity", mlb.com, October 24, 2022. [5]
  • Mike Lupica: "This trio is the backbone of Astros' October success", mlb.com, October 26, 2022. [6]
  • Gabe Lacques (USA Today): "Houston Astros-Philadelphia Phillies matchup gives 2022 World Series modern feel", Yahoo! News, October 24, 2022. [7]
  • Gabe Lacques (USA Today): "Astros can't erase stain of 2017, but World Series champs know the score: 'We've truly earned this'", Yahoo! News, November 6, 2022. [8]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Astros' World Series parade a packed affair in Houston", mlb.com, November 7, 2022. [9]
  • Matt Monagan: "Phillie Phanatic vs Orbit: The World Series of MLB's greatest mascots: A battle to end all battles", mlb.com, October 26, 2022. [10]
  • Bob Nightengale (USA Today): "With no Black players in World Series, Astros manager Dusty Baker is 'ashamed of the game'", Yahoo! News, October 28, 2022. [11]
  • Mike Petriello: "Which pitcher is Astros' weak link? (Spoiler: There is none)", mlb.com, October 24, 2022. [12]
  • Manny Randhawa: "Key storylines for Astros-Phillies World Series", mlb.com, October 24, 2022. [13]
  • Bill Shaikin (Los Angeles Times): "Astros set the MLB benchmark for success with second World Series title", Yahoo! News, November 5, 2022. [14]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Lights-out Astros 'pen posts historically low postseason ERA", mlb.com, November 6, 2022. [15]
  • Todd Zolecki: "'A lot to be proud of': Phils' wild ride ends in heartbreak", mlb.com, November 6, 2022. [16]

Related Sites[edit]

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NL Wild Card Series Phillies (WC3) over Cardinals (NLC) (2-0)

NL Wild Card Series Padres (WC2) over Mets (WC1) (2-1)

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World Series Astros (AL) over Phillies (NL) (4-2)

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AL Wild Card Series Guardians (ALC) over Rays (WC3) (2-0)

AL Wild Card Series Mariners (WC2) over Blue Jays (WC1) (2-0)

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