Man, oh man, that was fun. At its best, the World Series is a great display of what makes our game special, and last night’s Game 1 had it all. The Phillies achieved a rare World Series comeback of five or more runs Astros6–5 in 10 innings.
The star of the game was JT Realmuto of Philadelphia. He lifted a two-run double over the left field wall that tied the game in the fifth and set up the game-winning, opposite-field solo shot leading into the top of the 10th. He also made one of the best throws I’ve ever seen when he tried to catch Jose Altuve stealing second base in the bottom of the ninth. After Altuve was called safe on the field and reviewed, the decision stood, but that’s likely because the videos didn’t have enough evidence to make sure the call was wrong. I thought Altuve was out, but it was hard to tell. In any case, Realmuto hit a bunker shot to second baseman Jean Segura, who caught the ball at Altuve’s feet. The throw couldn’t have been better, and Altuve’s excellent leap made it all the more impressive.
The stolen base set up the defensive highlight of the night. With the winning run, Jeremy Peña hit a fly ball into shallow right field. Nick Castellanos, a defensive liability playing right field only because Bryce Harper couldn’t throw, charged up and caught the game-saving slider. Moments earlier, left fielder Kyle Schwarber signaled to both Castellanos and center fielder Brandon Marsh to get moving because they were playing too deep. Schwarber’s position on Castellanos is the only reason the right fielder reaches pop.
The remarkable performance overshadowed Castellanos’ other contribution to the win, his RBI single in the fourth, which led to a two-run home run, but that hit was the game’s turning point.
Castellanos stepped up to the plate with his team. Astros ace Justin Verlander jumped out to a quick 0-2 lead in the first jam of the night before breaking Castellanos with two four-seamers. The Philadelphia right-hander has struck out more often than anyone in baseball this season (57%) and has the highest strikeout rate (43.6%) in the National League, according to FanGraphs. And so Verlander ripped off a nasty slider that dropped to the bottom of the zone. Castellanos started swinging — he wanted to — and somehow held on until his barrel passed the point of no return. The next step was another slider at the bottom of the zone. This time, Castellanos struck out and hooked it to left to drive in the first Phillies run. Verlander gave up a two-run double to Alec Bohm, who was singled from there, and later gave up Realmuto’s game-tying double.
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“All week long, Justin Verlander has insisted that he cares more about winning Game 1 of the World Series than he does about erasing the legacy of those failures. On Friday, he did neither.”
That’s how Stephanie Apstein began her column last night looking at Verlander, who squandered a 5-0 victory and is winless in eight career World Series starts.
Justin Verlander is crumbling again in the Stephanie Apstein World Series
The Astros ace couldn’t erase his legacy of failure in the Fall Classic despite a five-run victory against the Phillies in Game 1.
Let’s take you back to the other two games that happened last night.
JT Realmuto Game by Tom Verducci The Phillies are ready to shock the world
The catcher stunned the Astros with a go-ahead run in Game 1 to help Philadelphia dominate the World Series.
Bold Bullpen Moves Fuel Phillies by Emma Bachelleri
Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson made a series of aggressive decisions that led to the team’s epic Game 1 comeback victory.
And if you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s bulletin, here it is!
Phillies – Anti-Astros, Matt Martell
Philly reached the World Series after not being able to repeat the tanks and rebuilding in Houston
3. DESERVES A GRADE from Matt Martell
Here’s yesterday’s trivia question, along with two answers:
A question: Five players have hit at least 30 home runs and stolen 10 or more bases this season. The only person whose team didn’t make the playoffs was, you guessed it, Shohei Ohtani. Two of the other four are, as you might expect, Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts. The other two are both playing in this World Series. Can you name them?
An answer: Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker (30 home runs, 25 stolen bases) and Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber (46 home runs, 10 stolen bases)
Then yesterday’s game was very appropriate. Tucker had a home run in each of his first two plate appearances, a solo shot in the second and a triple in the third. Schwarber, in turn, hit his first sack of the series when he stole second in the seventh inning. It was his third stolen base of the playoffs, the most by any player in the postseason. Not bad for a guy who only had 12 steals entering the regular season.
4. W2W4 from Matt Martell
The promise of a Game 1 pitcher’s duel between Verlander and Aaron Nola didn’t materialize, but we have another interesting matchup tonight.
On the mound for the Astros is left-hander Framber Valdez, who has hit an MLB-record 25 games this season. In his most recent appearance against the Yankees in the ALCS, Valdez surprisingly went 7 innings, allowing two runs (none earned) in a 3-2 win over Houston. Phillies right-hander Zach Wheeler will take the ball, as manager Rob Thomson looks to provide some length after using five pitchers last night, including Ranger Suarez, their Game 3 starter.
5. CLOSE UP by Matt Martell
This series is ripe with comparisons to the 2019 World Series, where the Nationals upset the Astros in seven games. Like the Phillies the night before, Washington used Game 3 starter Patrick Corbin out of the bullpen to win Game 1 of that series in Houston. The road team won every game in the ’19 World Series. If this follows the same trajectory, at least through the first six games, we’ll be in for a treat.
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