PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Phillies‘ magic carpet ride looks like it’s coming to an end.
Citizens Bank Park was loud for Game 5, but it was the Houston Astros that came away with a 3-2 win, taking a 3-2 series lead and now needing one win to win their second World Series since 2017.
Philly looked to be a team of destiny after they hit five home runs in their 7-0 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday night.
But four Astros pitchers combined to no-hit the Phillies in Game 4, snatching all momentum.
The chants of “cheater” were loud. But if there’s one thing about Jose Altuve, he’s unfazed by crowds. He doubled off the wall, and an error put him at third to start the game. Jeremy Peña drove him in to put the Astros on the board.
Kyle Schwarber answered right back, though, with a leadoff home run off Justin Verlander, tying the game at one and making Verlander a record-holder: most home runs allowed by a pitcher in the World Series (passing Catfish Hunter’s nine). Verlander also loaded the bases in the second, but Verlander escaped the jam unscathed. He got into another one in the third, putting two men on with two outs, but Bryson Stott flied out to end the Phils’ threat.
Verlander walked four batters in a game for the first time all season – in fact, he walked just four in all of April and all of August – but Schwarber’s home run was the only run he allowed in his five grind-it-out innings of work. It was the first time he’s allowed just one run in a World Series game in his career, having entered the night with a 6.07 ERA in the Fall Classic (he allowed three in Game 5 of the 2006 Fall Classic, but one earned).
Rob Thomson didn’t want Noah Syndergaard facing the lineup a second time through – mainly Yordan Alvarez, so Peña was his last batter when he came up in the fourth. But he led off the inning with a solo home run, giving the Astros a 2-1 lead.
Hector Neris was the first man out of the bullpen and gave up a leadoff single to Alec Bohm. He got the next two batters, but Dusty Baker went with Bryan Abreu out of the pen. His first pitch hit Jean Segura, bringing Schwarber up. But Abreu induced a 4-3 groundout. He remained in for the seventh, and sat Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, and Bryce Harper in order.
In the eighth, the Astros put runners on the corners with no outs against Seranthony Dominguez, who was in his second inning of work after five off days. That brought in David Robertson, but an Alvarez groundout brought in the Astros’ third run of the game.
Rafael Montero walked two batters to bring the lead run to plate with one out in the bottom of the eighth. After allowing an RBI single to Jean Segura, closer Ryan Pressly came in with the tying run on third and the lead run on first. He struck out Brandon Marsh, and Schwarber roped one down the line, but Trey Mancini, who had pinch-hit for Yuli Gurriel earlier, made a play that saved a run, maybe two, and maybe Houston’s season. Oh, and it was Mancini’s first inning in the field since Oct. 5.
After a huge 5-5-3 double play by Alec Bohm to end the top of the ninth, the Phillies had Hoskins, Realmuto, and Harper due up against Pressly. Hoskins struck out, and Chas McCormick robbed Realmuto of extra bases with a leaping catch off the wall.
Harper was hit by a pitch, putting the tying run on first, but Nick Castellanos grounded out to short to end the game.
The Phillies have had struggles with runners in scoring position all series – before Segura’s eighth-inning single, they had been 0 for their last 20 in such situations dating back to Game 1. On Thursday, they were 1-for-7.
Peña was named the ALCS MVP – he is very much putting himself in contention for World Series MVP. After his three-hit night, he’s hitting .381 this World Series. He would become just the ninth player in MLB history to win both an LCS and World Series MVP in the same year. Incredibly, the other eight have all been National League players.
The series now moves to Houston, where Zack Wheeler will go for the Phillies, and the Astros will match with Framber Valdez.