Once again, Phillies fight way to huge Game 1 win
The Philadelphia Phillies got knocked down. But they got up again, climbed back and finally overtook the Houston Astros on J.T. Realmuto‘s go-ahead home run to win World Series Game 1, 6-5, in 10 innings. After falling behind 5-0 early, the Phillies rallied against likely Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, with Realmuto ripping the game-tying double in the fifth inning, then took their first lead on his extra-inning blast.
The 87-win team that clawed its way back from a miserable spring to secure the league’s last playoff berth has looked like an underdog all month, but keeps on winning. The Phillies now hold a 1-0 World Series advantage, and notched that win in Houston.
The early punch/counter-punch turned into a tense bullpen staring contest that lasted until the 10th, when Realmuto whacked Luis Garcia’s 3-2 fastball into the second row. The catcher’s huge long ball handed the Astros their first loss of the postseason. They had previously weathered an 18-inning battle with the Seattle Mariners, largely thanks to Garcia’s work in relief.
This time, the righty who typically works as a starter didn’t extend the game, but allowed the first go-ahead homer in extra innings the World Series has seen since Max Muncy‘s walk-off to end a different 18-inning marathon — the one in 2018 between the Dodgers and Red Sox.
This was the fifth consecutive postseason game between the Astros and Phillies to stretch into extras, the previous four coming in the wild 1980 NLCS, before the Astros switched leagues.
The starting pitchers took turns allowing five runs apiece. The Phillies’ Aaron Nola went first, victimized by Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker‘s two homers in the early innings. Then Verlander stumbled, giving way to a string of Phillies hits, capped by Realmuto’s first huge moment.
Then the bullpens shut off the spigot.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson executed an aggressive plan to keep his team in a tie game. After the rally against Verlander, he pulled Nola with one out in the fifth and went to one of his top arms — lefty Jose Alvarado — to navigate top Houston hitters, including Yordan Alvarez. Later, he brought in presumptive Game 3 starter Ranger Suarez to retire Alvarez before turning to closer Seranthony Dominguez for five outs, beginning in the eighth. Trade deadline addition David Robertson earned a white-knuckle save in the 10th, escaping after giving up a double to Alex Bregman and walking Yuli Gurriel.
What appeared to be a hit-by-pitch in against Astros pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz was overruled by umpires because Diaz leaned into the ball. Diaz grounded out to end the game.
The Astros came within inches of ending the game in the ninth, but after Jose Altuve reached on a bloop single and stole second on an impossibly close play, defensively challenged Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos made a sliding grab to prevent a Jeremy Pena walk-off and send the game to extras.
Astros manager Dusty Baker raised eyebrows by leaving Verlander in as long as he did. His bullpen procession — dominant all postseason — once again posted zero after zero until the 10th.
Justin Verlander remains winless in World Series
It started like a dream, but Verlander’s World Series nightmares returned in Game 1. The 39-year-old ace, a future Hall of Famer, remains winless in eight World Series starts. He also now has the worst ERA of any pitcher with at least 30 innings in the Fall Classic.
After retiring the first 10 Phillies in order, Verlander ran into serious trouble. A five-run Houston lead evaporated in two innings as the Phillies notched six hits and a flurry of frustrating foul balls. J.T. Realmuto lashed the game-tying double with one out in the fifth. Verlander escaped the inning, but wound up allowing five runs and leaving with the game tied.
His career World Series ERA is now 6.07. Having started Game 1, he lines up to pitch again in the series if it proves competitive.
Kyle Tucker provides early fireworks for Astros
Houston’s early lead in Game 1 came almost entirely from the bat of Kyle Tucker. The sweet-swinging lefty crushed two homers and drove in four runs in the first three innings.
An under-the-radar linchpin for the Astros, the 25-year-old outfielder swings without batting gloves and runs with abandon. He made his first All-Star team in 2022, and logged a 30-homer, 25-steal campaign.
What looked like his showcase game ended with Tucker leaping for Realmuto’s home run ball as it sailed over his glove into the seats.
World Series Game 2 is Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. Phillies co-ace Zack Wheeler will take the mound against ultra-reliable Astros lefty Framber Valdez.
How’d we get here? Catch up on how the Astros, Phillies landed in the World Series:
Source: Yahoo Sports