While Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto was the offensive hero with a pair of critical extra-base hits, it was the managerial acumen of Rob Thomson combined with an exceptional performance from the Philadelphia bullpen that helped shape a well-rounded effort in World Series Game 1 on Friday (Saturday, October 29, Manila time)
Realmuto clubbed a leadoff, opposite-field home run in the 10th inning as the Phillies erased a five-run deficit and rallied past the Houston Astros 6-5 in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday.
Realmuto drilled a 97.5 mph fastball from Astros reliever Luis Garcia (1-1) just beyond the leaping attempt of Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker. The Phillies handed Houston its first loss of the postseason and will take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series into Game 2 on Saturday (Sunday, October 30, Manila time).
Philadelphia became the first team to rally from five runs down to win a World Series game since the Anaheim Angels accomplished the feat against the San Francisco Giants in Game 6 of the 2002 Fall Classic. That Giants team was managed by Dusty Baker, now the Astros’ manager.
Tucker supplied Houston a 5-0 lead by homering in his first two at-bats. His leadoff shot to right off Phillies starter Aaron Nola keyed a two-run second inning.
His three-run, 395-foot blast off Nola to right-center in the third plated Jeremy Pena and Alex Bregman and made Tucker the first player in club history with a multi-homer game in the World Series.
However, the Phillies fashioned a rally against Astros starter Justin Verlander in the fourth. Rhys Hoskins hit a one-out single and advanced to third when Bryce Harper singled with two outs.
Nick Castellanos’ single to left plated Hoskins, and Alec Bohm followed with a two-run double to left that narrowed the deficit to 5-3. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Phillies had momentum.
“You know, I think once we scored the three, (we) were kind of feeling it,” Thomson said. “Like, ‘OK, we got back in this thing, now the momentum’s changed.'”
“That’s really why I went to (reliever Jose) Alvarado in the fifth inning, which I haven’t done all year, because I thought that the momentum changed there was so important to keep that momentum, get through those guys, and we’ll figure out the rest later.”
Verlander needed 31 pitches to complete the fourth inning. Four batters into the fifth, the Phillies pulled even at 5-5 when Realmuto smoked a double to left-center field that scored Brandon Marsh and Kyle Schwarber, who had doubled and walked, respectively, to open the frame.
“They’re a good offensive club,” Baker said. “I mean, we knew we could hit — we know they could hit when we came in here, and they’re known for that. They just took it from us tonight.”
Nola and Verlander both allowed five runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five. Verlander lasted five innings, while Nola was done after 4 1/3 innings.
Starting with replacing Nola with Alvarado, Thomson made an impact. Every reliever he summoned from the bullpen delivered in the matchup he was called upon to win, from left-hander Alvarado to right-hander Zach Eflin to left-hander Ranger Suarez, who was set to start Game 3 on Monday.
“From top to bottom, the bullpen did phenomenal for us,” Realmuto said. “I thought when Rob brought … Alvarado in that early in the game in that big of a spot, I thought that was kind of the key in the game.”
Philadelphia right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (2-0) struck out three of the six batters he faced. David Robertson earned his first save of the postseason by working around a one-out double from Bregman and a two-out walk issued to Yuli Gurriel in the 10th inning.
The Astros had the tying run at third and the winning run at second in the 10th when pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz grounded to third base for the final out.
It was a stunning loss for the top seed in the American League, a shocking defeat with the Astros’ ace on the mound holding a five-run lead.
“Disappointing, yeah, for sure,” said Verlander, who is 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight career World Series starts.
“I need to do better. No excuses. Like I said, just need to execute pitches better. I felt like I had some guys in good situations and just wasn’t able to quite make the pitches that I wanted to.” – Rappler.com