Offenses Make Noise Early As WS Now A Best Of Three
Best of three, that is what the 2022 World Series now becomes. The Houston Astros look to take advantage of Noah Syndergaard early, as Jose Altuve sends the second pitch of the game all the way to the wall. Brandon Marsh bobbled it, allowing Altuve to make it to third. Two pitches later Jeremy Pena singled him in to put Houston on top. J.T. Realmuto helped limit the damage, throwing out Pena when Yordan Alvarez struck out. Alex Bregman struck out to end the first.
It took two pitches for Kyle Schwarber to tie the game. He homered on a 94 MPH high fastball, sending it well out to right. Bryce Harper then walked with two outs, but Nick Castellanos flied out to Alvarez. Verlander, a future Hall of Famer, continues to try for his first World Series win. How well he puts what happened to him in game one behind him remains to be seen.
Syndergaard may not last more than three innings, but he makes his time count, striking out Kyle Tucker and David Hensley in the top of the second. Verlander gets the first two Philadelphia hitters out on two pitches. Jean Segura singles on the next pitch and Brandon Marsh walks. Verlander works into even more trouble, allowing a free pass to Schwarber. Rhys Hoskins fans on a slider down and away to end the threat.
How Well Verlander Settles In May Determine Outcome Of Game Five
The strike them out, throw them out double play settles down Syndergaard, who breezes through the top of third. He makes a case to stay in beyond the 11 batters the Phillies wanted him to face. Verlander, on the other hand, continues to struggle with control at times. The one out walk to Harper is his fourth of the game. Pena catches a lined shot, 105 MPH off the bat of Castellanos. Alec Bohm singles but Bryson Stott flies out to Tucker on the next pitch, a 97 MPH fastball on the inside corner.
Syndergaard comes back for the top of the fourth, and gives up a solo home run to Pena on 77 MPH curve. Pena’s case for Series MVP grows as Houston jumps back on top, 2-1. The first Phillies pitcher out of the bullpen, Connor Brogdon, works out of trouble after Bregman just misses a home run by a foot or two. He fans Tucker and Yuli Gurriel to strand Bregman at second.
Speaking of stranding runners, Philadelphia strand six through the first three innings. Verlander gives them no chance to add to his stress, striking out Marsh, and freezing Schwarber on a curve ball. Meanwhile Brogdon continues his strong work, as the Astros continue to miss his changeup.
On the other hand Verlander made it hard on himself the first three innings. Harper ensures the fifth will not be relaxing for him either with a two out double. After a ten pitch battle with Castellanos, Verlander coaxes a fly out to Alvarez, likely ending Verlander’s night.
Can Astros Bullpen Match Phillies?
Pivotal games now, as every postseason game is, becomes a battle of team’s relievers. Up next for the Phillies, Jose Alvarado, who looks to redeem himself after being put in a tough spot last night. Despite a single to Altuve, and hitting Bregman, he works a scoreless inning after getting Tucker to ground out to Hoskins.
Now the Astros much show they can match the excellent Philadelphia relievers. First for Houston out of the bullpen, Hector Neris, faces Bohm, Stott, and Segura. Neris faces the three batter minimum, allowing a single to Bohm. On Bryan Abreu‘s first pitch he hits Marsh in the knee. Just two pitches later Schwarber makes the Phillies 0 for their last 20 with runners in scoring position, grounding out Altuve to Gurriel.
The pressure switches to Seranthony Dominguez who pitches for the first time since game one. Marsh misreads Gurriel’s swing, allowing a double to shallow center field. He moves up to third on a wild pitch, but Hensley grounds out to Stott. Then the Phillies drawn in infield pays off. Caught in a run down after Chas McCormick hits a grounder to Bohm, Gurriel may have hurt himself. Finally Dominguez slips off the hook when Martin Maldonado cannot bring McCormick home.
Will Phillies Bats Wake Up In Time?
For the Phillies the bottom of the seventh presents their best chance to tie or take the lead. Continuing for Houston Abreu makes quick work of Hoskins and Realmuto, and then he gets Harper to pop out to Bregman. How much better of a chance will the Phillies get against the Astros relievers?
Asking more of either bullpen seems unfair, but Dominguez must hold Houston at bay for another inning. The Astros best hitters tonight, Altuve and Pena, continue to be a problem for the Phillies. Altuve walks and Pena singles for his third hit of the game. Alvarez grounds out to first and Hoskins fails to field it cleanly. His bobble allows him to just tag out Alvarez, and for Altuve to score and make it 3-1. Dave Robertson fights back to limit Houston to one run, as Trey Mancini goes down swinging.
Even more opportunities to do damage with runners on base for the Phillies in the bottom of the eighth as Rafael Montero walks Castellanos and Stott. Not one of the first four walks scored for the Phillies and they must break through and get one to score now. Segura breaks the 0-20 with runners in scoring position, singling to Tucker. 3-2 Astros now as Castellanos scores.
Houston’s Pressly Asked To Get Last Five Outs
The first game of the now best of three series now falls to Ryan Presssly to close. Tough spot for him, Stott on third, Segura on first, and their is just one out. Marsh strikes out on three straight sliders. All off speed pitches to Schwarber as well, and he grounds out sharply to Mancini right at the first base bag, allowing him to stretch out and tag first. His excellent play keeps the Astros in the lead.
Next up for the Phillies out of the pen, Zach Eflin, immediately give up an infield hit to Hensley. After Martin Maldonado singles Altuve sends a grounder to Bohm. Bohm starts a 5-3 double play, stepping on third and throwing across to Hoskins. Phillies now just need one run to keep game five going.
Philadelphia’s heart of the order, Hoskins, Realmuto, and Harper now must come through for them. Hoskins misses a 93 MPH high fastball for out number one. McCormick’s spectacular catch robs Realmuto of a double. The situation any pitcher wants with Harper up, no one on, now occurs, but Pressly hits Harper with a slider. Next up to try and play hero for the Phillies, Castellanos, cannot come through, grounding out Pena to Mancini to give Houston game five.
Good News, Bad News For Both Teams
The series goes back to Houston now but that might not be the best news for the Astros. Zach Wheeler, who the Astros hit hard in game two, goes against Framber Valdez. Philadelphia must take advantage of the opportunities the Astros pitchers give them. Only one of the six hitters the Astros walked, Castellanos, scored. 1-21 with runners in scoring position ends up with teams losing series, and another game like that may end the Phillies season. Houston has two chances for their second World Series title in five years, and Dusty Baker‘s first.
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