A timely swing by JT Realmuto propelled the Philadelphia Phillies to an unexpected victory in the World Series opener. A terrifying stab from right fielder Nick Castellanos gave him that shot.
Realmuto hit a single home run in the 10th inning and the Phillies, saved by a sliding catch from Castellanos, beat the Houston Astros 6-5 on Friday night.
Quickly down 5–0 against Astros ace Justin Verlander, the Phillies became the first team in 20 years to overcome a five-run deficit to win a World Series game.
They can thank Castellanos for getting the chance. Known much more for his bat than the glove, he ran for a game-saving catch on Jeremy Pea’s blooper in the ninth inning with two outs and a runner on the second.
“Overall, it was a great game, a great comeback from behind a win, and it showed again the resilience of the club and how tough they are and they never gave up,” said Phillips manager Rob Thomson.
Realmuto, who hit a tying, two-run double in fifth off Verlander, completed the comeback when he sent a fastball into the seats from Luis Garcia to lead 10th.
Realmuto hoped for the best as they saw right fielder Kyle Tucker chasing the ball.
“Once I saw him running towards the wall, I was thinking in my mind, ‘Oh, please don’t hold it, just don’t hold it.'”
He didn’t, the ball was going just out of his reach.
Realmuto circled the grounds in the scene he had dreamed of as a child.
“Oh, of course. Yes. Absolutely. I mean a game of wiffle ball in the backyard, the whole 3-2, base-loaded, two-out situation. I probably had 7,000 at-bats in that position,” he said.
And did he usually deliver?
“Every time, yes,” said Realmuto, laughing.
Realmuto became the first catcher to hit an extra-innings home run in a World Series since Carlton Fisk waved a walk-off fair in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 series against Cincinnati at Fenway Park.
Big-hitting Bryce Harper added two singles for the Phillies in his World Series debut. The two-time NL MVP is batting .426 (20 off 47) with five homers this season.
Tucker made it home twice for the Astros, going 7–0 later this season. CBSSports.com reports that Tucker became the first player in the World Series with a multi-homer attempt, as Brandon Lowe did for the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the 2020 Fall Classic.
“Disappointing, yes, definitely,” Verlander said. “I need to do better. No excuses.”
verlander Became the second pitcher to make a World Series debut in three decades, joining Roger Clemens. He tied in John Lester, another former Red Sox ace, in a separate category, Starting his 12th career Game 1,
Houston had a chance in the 10th when Alex Bregman doubled with an out. After Yuli Guriel’s two-out run, David Robertson bounced off a wild pitch that put the runners on second and third.
Pinch-hitter Aldamis Diaz was hit by a 2–0 pitch from David Robertson – but plate umpire James Hoy ruled that Diaz leaned into the pitch and did not allow him to go first to load a base.
Diaz was dismissed on a 3-1 pitch to end it.
The last team to take a 5–0 lead in the World Series was the 2002 San Francisco Giants, who lost their chance in Game 6 to close the Angels and win the title under manager Dusty Baker.
Baker saw it happen again, this time as manager of the Astros, by the same 6-5 final score.
The 106-winner Astros lost to none as Philadelphia beat them to Aaron Nola on October 3 to earn a wild-card spot as a third-place team and earn their first playoff trip in 11 years.
Houston took the big lead, in large part for Tucker’s two homers. But the Phillies held back as Verlander struggled again in the World Series.
Perfect as he took a 5–0 lead in the fourth, he was knocked out with the score 5-all after the fifth. This left him 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight career World Series – hardly down the line for a pitcher who might soon be expected to take home his third Cy Young Award.
The Astros fell 0–5 in the World Series opener and dropped their first game this post season after sweeping the AL Division Series and AL Championship Series.
When Castellanos played his best game, Seranthani Dominguez scored a ninth to seal the win.
With Jose Altuve at second base after his two-out single and stolen base, Pea hit a ball that came off the bat at 68 mph and went only 200 feet. Castellanos went a long way, then slid down the ground with a lunge to end the innings.
Just before the pitch, Castellanos moved a little closer.
“My instincts told me to do it. I thought he had a better chance of trying to spit something in there than to burn something on my head,” he said.
In the NL Division Series opener against Atlanta, Castellanos scored three runs and helped maintain the lead with a few similar catches in the ninth of that 7–6 victory.
“I’ve had some people say that it looked like a carbon copy of each other,” he said. “But I’m just happy that one got out and we were able to try and win both of those games.”
At the World Series for the fourth time in six years – and after losing to Atlanta in six games last year – the Astros want to give Baker their first title as manager and their second championship after winning it in 2017, A tainted title by a sign-theft scandal.
The Amazing Phillies, who have two championships, are in the World Series for the first time since 2009. He made a comeback from a 21-29 start which led to the firing of manager Joe Girardi.
Tucker had an orange-clad home crowd, becoming the first player in franchise history with a multi-home run game in the World Series. One of the few players in the Major to hit without batting gloves and suddenly drop attitude, he had four RBIs in a year after finishing the Fall Classic without one.
The normally mild-mannered Tucker punctuated his first homer with a nifty bat flip and mixed in an expectant as he screamed toward the dugout as he began his trot.
NOLA took a perfect seventh inning on his last visit to Minute Maid Park, more than three weeks before Philadelphia secured their first playoff spot since 2011. Things weren’t nearly as smooth on his return on Friday.
Tucker hurled an off-speed pitch from NOLA high and into the seats in right field to send Houston up 1-0 without an outsider in the second. Gurrill, Chas McCormick and Martin Maldonado added singles for another run.
Pea, ALCS MVP, doubled to open Houston’s third, before Yordan Alvarez took the field off the ground. He was initially ruled safe, but the call was challenged by the Phillies, and it was reversed.
Bregman, who was NOLA’s roommate at LSU, went before Tucker went deep again, putting a ball right-center into the stands behind the bullpen to extend it 5–0.
Verlander, who had an MLB-best 1.75 ERA in the regular season, allowed six hits and five runs in five innings. He joined Roger Clemens as the only pitcher in major league history to start the World Series in three different decades, but still could not claim that elusive World Series victory. Friday marked the 12th start of his career in the post-season opener, which saw him pair the most in MLB history with John Lester.
Verlander, who made his third series opener debut, retired the first 10 batsmen before Rhys Hoskins went for a single with one in the fourth. Harper and Castellanos put on a single for one run and Alec Bohm took a 5-3 lead in a two-run double.
Brandon Marsh opened fifth with a double before Kyle Schwarber walked in. Realmuto sent them home with a double off the wall at left-centre to tie the two at 5-all.