Another successful Major League Baseball season was put in the books on Saturday night, Nov. 5, as the mighty Houston Astros defeated the cinderella-story Philadelphia Phillies to win their second world championship in six seasons.
The Astros’ victory in game six on Saturday capped off a thrilling series and postseason. Both teams went back and forth in the first four games of the story, with each team winning two games before the Astros wrestled control and won the final two games.
The series began with games one and two in Houston at the Astros’ home ballpark, Minute Maid Park. Game one saw the Astros storm out to a 5-0 lead at the bottom of the third inning with right fielder Kyle Tucker belting two home runs off of Phillies starter Aaron Nola with a solo bomb in the second inning and a three-run blast in the third. Astros catcher Martin Maldonado scored the other run at the bottom of the third, bringing home first baseman Yuli Gurriel.
It didn’t take the Phillies too long to respond as they shut down Justin Verlander’s no-hit bid at the top of the fourth inning with a Rhys Hoskins single. Right fielder Nick Castellanos and third baseman Alec Bohm drove in a single and a double respectively to trim the Houston lead to 5-3. They proceeded to tie the game at the top of the fifth inning when catcher JT Realmuto doubled off the base of the wall to bring home two runners.
The game remained even until the top of the tenth inning when Realmuto hit a go-ahead solo blast off of Astros pitcher Luis Garcia to give the Phillies a 6-5 lead. Phillies reliever David Robertson entered the game at the bottom of the tenth and narrowly earned the save as the Phillies won their first World Series game in fourteen years and took the series lead 1-0.
On another note, the Phillies also became the first team since the 2002 Los Angeles Angels to overcome a five-run deficit to win a world series game. Ironically, the Angels were facing the San Francisco Giants, who were managed by current Astros manager Dusty Baker.
The Phillies did not have an enjoyable game two, as the Astros once again stormed out of the game with a three-run first inning. Phillies starter Zack Wheeler could not solve the daunting threesome of Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez, all of whom raked in doubles. Altuve arrived at second while the bags were empty, while Pena and Alvarez each brought home the former, giving them a 2-0 lead before an error later brought home Alvarez to make the score 3-0. Third baseman Alex Bregman later hit a two-run bomb off of Wheeler in the fifth inning to make it 5-0, knocking Wheeler out of the game in the process.
Unlike the night before, the Phillies could not solve Astros starter, Framber Valdez, as they did with Verlander, who put up a solid performance going six innings while giving up one earned run to go along with nine strikeouts. They did receive some insurance at the plate towards the end, as Castellanos scored a run in the seventh and Bohm scored off an error in the ninth to make it 5-2, but it was too late. The series was headed to Philadelphia tied at one apiece.
Games three, four and five were held at the Phillies’ home field, Citizens Bank Park. Playing in front of their highly energetic and intimidating fan base, the Phillies dominated game three in every facet. Unlike the first two games, in which the Phillies stumbled out of the gate, they put on a thrilling home run derby to start the game. Designated hitter Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer to right to put Philly on top 2-0. They expanded their lead to 4-0 off of solo blasts from Bohm and center fielder Bradon Marsh. With three home runs in the first two innings, the Phillies became the first team to accomplish this feat in MLB history.
The fun didn’t stop there, as in the fifth inning left fielder Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run bomb to dead center, which was followed by a solo blast to left off of the bat of Hoskins to put the Phillies comfortably in the driver’s seat, trouncing the Astros the 7-0. With the two additional home runs, the Phillies became the fourth team to achieve this mark in baseball history, with the most recent being the 2017 Astros.
Their pitching also did its job that game, as Ranger Suarez pitched five scoreless innings before being yanked in favor of Connor Brogdon, Kyle Gibson, Nick Nelson and Andrew Bellati, all of whom each pitched one scoreless inning to complete the shutout for the Phillies. The unit only gave up five hits while sitting down seven Astros hitters and giving Philly a 2-1 series lead.
The tides completely turned in game four, as it was the Astros who maintained full possession of the game. The bats were silent on both sides for the first four innings, before the Astros put out their own fireworks show for the folks of Philadelphia to enjoy, as they put up five runs in the top of the fifth. Nola, who had a rough game one and who was up to that point having a solid bounce-back performance, began to see flashbacks of what happened a few nights prior. He loaded the bases before being pulled for reliever Jose Alvarado, who hit Alvarez with a pitch to make it 1-0 Houston. The run snapped a sixteen-inning scoreless streak for the Astros. Bregman, the next batter, hit a two-run double which was followed by a sacrifice fly from Tucker and a single from Gurriel, running the score up to 5-0 for Houston.
Neither team scored again in this contest, as the Phillies hitters had zero answers for anyone Houston put on the mound. The Astros pulled off the first combined no-hitter in Astros postseason history, with Christian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and closer Ryan Pressly not allowing a single hit in the process. They also sat down 14 Phillies batters, with Javier striking out nine. This was also the first postseason no-hitter since former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay’s in 2010, and only the third overall in Major League history.
Game five was much less lopsided than the previous two games, as both teams battled for control of the game. The game started with Astros rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena singling to bring home Altuve to make it 1-0 at the top of the first. Schwarber responded by tying the game with a solo blast at the bottom of the first. Later on, in the top of the fourth, Pena hit a solo bomb to make it 2-1 Astros while becoming the first rookie shortstop to hit a home run in a world series. The Astros made it 3-1 at the top of the eighth as Altuve scored off of an Alvarez ground out, while the Phillies would cut the lead to 3-2 off of a Jeff Segura single. The Astros held on after a ninth-inning scare to take the series win to go along with securing Verlander’s first world series win of his career.
The series returned to Houston for game six, as the pitching took control of the game for the first five innings for both teams before Kyle Schwarber hit a solo laser to right at the top of the sixth inning to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. The renewed momentum for the Phillies wouldn’t last long, however, as Astros catcher Christian Vazquez scored a single to tie the game at one. Phillies manager Rob Thomson controversially removed Zach Wheeler from the game after going 5.1 innings as a result of this. This move doomed the Phillies, as a three-run blast by Alvarez put the Astros in the driver’s seat for good with a 4-1 lead.
Three innings later, Kyle Tucker made a running catch in right to secure the second world championship in franchise history for the Astros, who became the first team to clinch a world championship on their home field since the 2013 Boston Red Sox. Jeremy Pena was named World Series MVP, and manager Dusty Baker finally won his first world series after a long managerial career.
It was a competitive World Series that saw both teams fight until the very end, with the Astros proving that they were the better team as they outweighed the Phillies with experience, depth, rotational pieces and bullpen arms. The Phillies may have been a force at the plate, however, many stronger elements are needed to win a championship. They will be back, but it is clear that it was not their time.