The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Houston Astros in dramatic fashion Friday night to take Game 1 of the World Series 6-5 in extras.
The Phillies won with a home run by J.T. Realmuto in the top of the 10th inning, hushing a raucous home crowd at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. Houston then failed to score with runners on second and third to end the game.
The Astros first jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the bottom of the 3rd inning, with four runs scored off a pair of blasts hit by Kyle Tucker in his first two at-bats. Philadelphia soon responded with three runs in the 4th and tied the game in the 5th after a Realmuto double.
A diving catch by right fielder Nick Castellanos with two outs in the bottom of the 9th preserved a 5-5 tie, keeping what would have been Houston’s winning run on second base and sending the game to extra innings.
“It’s incredible. It was definitely a perfect game in a series.” Castellanos said during a post-game interview. “We were down five. We faced adversity, and we do what we always do. We found a way to pass the baton and keep something going, fought back. How long did we have the lead for the game, maybe 15 minutes? And sometimes that’s all you need.”
Realmuto – who became the first catcher with an extra inning home run in the World Series since Carlton Fisk’s famous Game 6 walkoff in 1975 – praised his team’s ability to come back.
“The way we fought back in that game after being down 5-0, that is a Phillies win right there,” Realmuto said.
Of the winning home run, “all I was trying to do is get on base. I was trying to see some pitches early,” he said. “Got a good pitch to hit. Luckily, I was able to put a good swing on it.”
The Phillies jumped on Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander for five runs. Verlander, a likely future hall of famer, remains winless as a starter in the World Series in his stellar career.
Following the game, Verlander said he needs to execute his pitches better.
“Disappointing,” Verlander said. “My team gave me a five-run lead, and I wasn’t able to hold it. I feel really confident that 99% of the time that I’m able to hold that lead, and unfortunately today I wasn’t.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday in Houston.
After Friday’s comeback, teams are now 220-6 when leading by 5 or more runs in a World Series game, according to MLB. Such a comeback has not happened since the Los Angeles Angels – then known as the Anaheim Angels – trailed by five and then won Game 6 of the 2002 edition.
With moments like those seen Friday, it’s safe to say the Phillies have benefited greatly from MLB’s postseason expanding from 10 to 12 teams this season.
The Phillies, winners of 87 games in the regular season and finishing third in the National League East, claimed the last available playoff spot in – of all places – Houston, with a win against the Astros, ending Philadelphia’s 11-year playoff drought.
The Astros were the No. 1 seed in the American League playoffs and are tipped by most, including bookmakers, to win the franchise’s second World Series crown. The Astros have now reached the World Series for the fourth time in six years and are considered favorites after going undefeated in the AL playoffs, sweeping the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees.
As the National League’s No. 6 seed, the Phillies have already upset the odds three times en route to the Fall Classic, beating the St. Louis Cardinals, defending champion Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres.
Houston will want to put right the heartbreak of its two most recent visits to the World Series, where it lost to the Washington Nationals in 2019 and the Braves last season. The Astros’ only previous World Series win came when they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017.
That victory, however, is marred in controversy, as Major League Baseball found the club illegally created a system that decoded and communicated the opposing teams’ pitching signs during their 2017 championship season.
The team forfeited draft picks and paid a $5 million fine but kept their title – which, to many non-Houston fans, has left their victory shrouded in scandal.
A Phillies series win would give the franchise its third World Series title, with its last coming back in 2008.