In A Game Astros Must Win Houston Calls Upon Cristian Javier
Game four of the World Series, one the Astros must win, sees Houston call upon Cristian Javier to try and quiet Philadelphia’s power bats. The Phillies ask their number one starter for many years, Aaron Nola, to continue to hold down Houston’s offense. Nola comes out throwing strikes, 16 out of his 20 first inning pitches, giving up just a two out single to Yordan Alvarez. Javier gets through the first in fifteen pitches, including fanning J.T. Realmuto on a slider down and away. This game, at the start, feels very different from last night.
Nola finds trouble in the second inning, giving up a lead off double to Kyle Tucker and then hitting Christian Vazquez. Both Aledmys Diaz and Chas McCormick fan on breaking balls off the plate, ending an early threat for Houston. Phillies postseason MVP, Bryce Harper, works a lead off walk in the bottom of the second. Harper steals second as Javier fans Alec Bohm. Bryson Stott then pops out on a high fastball to end the second.
Nola zips through the top of the third in only 11 pitches, a much needed quick inning for him. Javier gives up a one out, four pitch, walk to Brandon Marsh. Marsh steals another base for the Phillies after Kyle Schwarber looks at a slider on the outside corner. Rhys Hoskins fails to get around on a high fastball, popping out to Yuli Gurriel. Through three innings both pitchers dominate. Two runs, maybe three at most, might win tonight’s game.
Game Four Shaping To Be First Pitching Duel Of WS
Nola uses his curve to work out of another jam in the top of the fourth, Diaz grounds out to Stott after Gurriel and Vazquez single with two outs. The broadcast says hitters are just 2-30 against Javier in the postseason so far. The Phillies fare no better in the top of the fourth. Javier’s fastball proves unhittable to Realmuto, Harper, and Nick Castellanos. Philadelphia manages just two walks through the first four innings.
McCormick beats out a single deep in the hole to shortstop Stott, and then gives up a single on an inside fastball to Jose Altuve. Alvarez now steps to the plate with the bases loaded and no one out. Jeremy Pena rifles a single to Schwarber, chasing Nola. Nola made mistakes after getting ahead of Altuve and Pena, and now Jose Alvarado relieves him with the game on the line, potentially.
Astros Finally Reach Nola In The Top Of The Fifth
1-0 Astros as Alvarado hits Alvarez in the ribs with a 99 MPH sinker. Another mistake by a Phillies pitcher ahead in the count extends the lead to 3-0. Alex Bregman, the Astros best postseason hitter, doubles on a 101 MPH sinker up in the zone. Bregman moves up to third as Tucker brings home Alvarez on a sacrifice fly. Gurriel continues to hit well in the World Series, singles in Bregman on a cutter, 96 MPH, low and out of the zone. Alvarado finally finds his groove, striking out Vazquez swinging and Diaz looking. 5-0 Houston, as Javier now must protect a big lead better than Justin Verlander did in game one.
Phillies Continue To Be No Hit By Javier
Javier’s line through five innings proves to be exactly what Houston needed: 77 pitches, 50 strikes, nine strikeouts and two walks. What contact Philadelphia makes has not been very hard. Even one more inning from him sets up the bullpen the way most managers want it, with their relievers starting the seventh, eighth, and ninth.
Andrew Bellatti must not allow any more runs to Houston. His slider sets down McCormick and Altuve. Pena flies out to Schwarber on a 94 MPH inside fastball. Meanwhile Houston’s Javier becomes the first pitcher to strike out nine in five no hit innings in the World Series. With Hoskins batting Tom Verducci drops an amazing stat; hitters are just 8-116 in the last 36 innings against Javier. Hoskins fares no better, grounding out to Pena to end the sixth.
Now Up To Houston’s Bullpen To Even WS
Dave Robertson now is in for the Phillies in the seventh. Outside of a walk to Tucker he has one of his best outings recently, including fanning Alvarez on a low curve. First out of the bullpen for Houston, Bryan Abreu, tries to continue the Astros relievers great work. Realmuto misses on a slider, his sixth punch out in seven at bats at Citizens Bank Park in the World Series. The Phillies now stand just six outs from being the third team to be no hit in a postseason game.
Will History Be Made In A Game Astros Must Win?
Zach Eflin helps continue the Astros late inning struggles, as Vazquez, Diaz, and McCormick go down swinging. Philadelphia now must try to to fight back and scrap together runs against Rafael Montero. Segura’s line drive proves to be the loudest out of the night. Sharply lining out to to Tucker, he sends the Phillies to the ninth still with no hits. In a game the Astros must win the team strikes out 13 Phillies through eight.
The top of the ninth now feels like a truly meaningless half inning. Everyone who loves baseball, and drama, cares more about the bottom of the ninth. Marsh, Schwarber, and Hoskins are the scheduled hitters for Philadelphia. Ryan Pressly, Houston’s closer, now warms up with a chance to be a part of history. Brad Hand makes sure no one watching waits too long, allowing just a single to Pena.
Javier, Abreu, Montero, and Pressly combine for just the second no-hitter in World Series history. The other, Don Larsen in game six in 1956, came against the Brooklyn Dodgers. After five home runs last night Javier made sure Houston stays in this series. Now the real drama starts with just three games left to determine the 2022 champion.
Justin Verlander tries yet again for his first World Series win game five. Philadelphia counters with Noah Syndergaard and questions no doubt will surround how deep into the game he pitches. The tension and drama now grow on every pitch of potentially the last three games. The Phillies, the underdog, still have more than a punchers chance in the hometown of Rocky.