The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Houston Astros, 6-5, on Friday night in a drama-filled Game 1 of the 2022 World Series. The Phillies, who came back from a five-run deficit, now possess a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. J.T. Realmuto hit the game-winning home run off of Luis Garcia in the 10th inning to hand Houston its first loss of the 2022 postseason.
The Astros established an early 5-0 lead behind a pair of Kyle Tucker home runs. The Astros outfielder took Phillies starter Aaron Nola deep in both the second and third innings. The Phillies clawed their way back into the game, however, tying things up at 5-5 in the fifth inning against Astros ace Justin Verlander.
The score remained tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, when Jose Altuve singled and stole a base to put himself in scoring position. Nick Castellanos then made an impressive sliding grab to send the game into extra innings. That’s when Realmuto homered and the Phillies were able to secure the victory (despite the Astros getting the winning run in scoring position against David Robertson) and steal Game 1 on the road.
Tucker launches two home runs
Kyle Tucker hit two home runs in Game 1, becoming the first player with a multi-homer effort in the World Series since Brandon Lowe did it for the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the 2020 Fall Classic.
Tucker’s first home run came in the second inning and put the Astros up by a 1-0 margin. His second, a three-run shot, extended Houston’s lead to 5-0 in the third:
Tucker also became the first left-handed batter this season to hit a home run against Aaron Nola’s changeupand the fourth player ever to homer in their first two World Series at-bats. The previous three were Gene Tenace, Andruw Jones, and Pablo Sandoval, who did it most recently back in the 2012 World Series.
Verlander makes history with start, but blows lead
Justin Verlander became the second pitcher to ever record a World Series start in three decadesjoining Roger Clemens. He also tied another former Red Sox ace in a different category, in Jon Lester, by making his 12th career Game 1 start.
Verlander appeared in good position to record his 16th career postseason win in the early goings. He didn’t allow a baserunner through the first three innings while the Astros built him a five-run lead. Things fell apart in the fourth inning, however, as he allowed five of six batters to reach at one point, shrinking the lead to 5-3.
Verlander would be afforded one more inning, but that would prove to be a mistake. Brandon Marsh led off with a double, Kyle Schwarber walked, and then Alec Bohm plated both with a double to tie the game at 5-5. By the time his night was finished, Verlander had thrown five innings and allowed five earned runs on six hits and two walks.
Despite Verlander’s reputation as a big-game pitcher, he entered the night with a career 5.68 ERA in seven World Series starts. Friday’s performance increased that number to 6.07, the highest mark for any pitcher with at least 30 innings pitched in the World Series.
The Phillies erased a five-run deficit
You get the sense the Phillies don’t realize they’re not supposed to be here. They were a third-place team during the regular season and the No. 6 seed in the postseason, a seed that didn’t exist until this year. They were supposed to lose to the Cardinals in the Wild Card Series or the Braves in the NLDS. And yet, here they are in the World Series.
Apparently no one told the Phillies they were supposed to go quietly after falling behind 5-0 early in Game 1. After Justin Verlander retired the first 10 batters he faced, seven of the next nine and eight of the next 10 reached base. At one point four straight Phillies reached base with two outs in the fourth inning, including Nick Castellanos (RBI single) and Alec Bohm (two-RBI double).
According to Inside Edgethe Phillies have strung together three or more hits with two outs on three occasions this postseason after doing it an MLB-best 27 times during the regular season. All other teams have done it three times total this October.
Philadelphia officially erased the 5-0 deficit in the top of the fifth inning. Verlander needed 36 pitches to get his first nine outs and 54 pitches to get his final six outs. It wasn’t until his his final pitch — No. 90 on the night — that Verlander got a swing and miss on a breaking ball.
Erasing a five-run deficit was only half the battle. The Phillies still had to find a way to push across a sixth run to have a chance to win the game, and they had to do against the excellent Astros bullpen. That wasn’t going to be easy.
Realmuto breaks tie in 10th
As mentioned above, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto launched the first extra-inning World Series home run in franchise history in the 10th inning, putting Philadelphia up 6-5. That would end up being the final score. It was also the first extra-inning home run in a World Series game by a catcher since Carlton Fisk’s walk-off blast in 1975.
Realmuto’s home run came off a fastball thrown by Luis Garcia:
CBS Sports noted coming into the series that Realmuto had been the Phillies’ best hitter against rising fastballs, like the one Garcia offers. From the aforementioned article:
During the regular season, Realmuto was the Phillies’ best hitter against fastballs with at least 18 inches of Induced Vertical Break — a fancy way of saying pitches that deviated from a straight line from the pitcher’s hand to the plate by a foot and a half. Realmuto batted .435/.567/1.130 versus those pitches, notching three home runs, three triples, and a double.
Overall, Realmuto finished the evening 2 for 4 with a pair of extra-base hits and three runs batted in.
Thomson managed very aggressively
Once they tied the game, Phillies manager Rob Thomson went to his top relievers almost immediately. Here’s how he used his bullpen after Aaron Nola got the first out of the fifth inning:
- Ace lefty reliever José Alvarado entered to face the left-right-left lane of Yordan Alvarez-Alex Bregman-Kyle Tucker with one out in the fifth inning. Alvarado retired all three.
- Starter-turned-reliever Zach Eflin then came in with one out in the sixth to face the bottom of the lineup. He got four outs and pitched around an infield single and a walk.
- Lefty and No. 3 starter (and probable Game 3 starter) Ranger Suárez entered with two outs in the seventh to face the Alvarez-Bregman-Tucker lane. He got the first two out before allowing a single to Tucker.
- Seranthony Domínguez, the Phillies’ best reliever all year, replaced Suárez with one out in the eighth. At that point, the game was on the line with every pitch, so Thomson went with his best. Domínguez got five outs.
- David Robertson, Thomson’s best remaining reliever, got the 10th inning following Realmuto’s go-ahead home run. He stranded runners at second and third to close out the game.
Thomson used his bullpen aggressively but also not in a way that compromised anyone’s availability for Game 2. Alvarado threw only seven pitches, Eflin 20, Domínguez 24, and Robertson 25. Nothing extreme like 30-40 pitches. Suárez threw 11 pitches and should be able to start Game 3 on Monday with no issues. Thomson’s bullpen usage was balanced — aggressive but not reckless.
Five Phillies relievers held the Astros to four hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. Philadelphia had a chance to steal Game 1 on the road and claim home field advantage, and Thomson went for it. He used his best available pitchers in the game’s biggest spots and didn’t manage for tomorrow, and his reward is a 1-0 series lead.
The Phillies ended Houston’s winning streak
Going into Game 1, the Astros were a perfect 7-0 this postseason. They swept the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS and the New York Yankees in the ALCS before falling to the Phillies in Game 1. The seven straight wins to begin a postseason were one short of the all-time record. Here’s the list:
- 2014 Royals: 8 wins
- 2022 Astros: 7 wins
- 2020 Braves: 7 wins
- 2007 Rockies: 7 wins
- 2017 Dodgers: 6 wins
- 2016 Cleveland: 6 wins
It is worth noting the five non-Astros teams on that list did not win the World Series. Bad omen? Maybe, but I’ll say this much: I’d rather win my first seven postseason games than not. Houston’s winning streak is over, but the World Series is not. They are fully capable of beating Philadelphia four times in the next six games.
Game 2. Historically, teams that win Game 1 of a best-of-seven have gone on to win the series 64 percent of the time, though the Game 1 winner has won each of the last four World Series and 16 of the last 19 World Series. Then again, a higher power may be at work:
. Anyway, Game 2 is Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. Lefty Framber Valdez (17-6, 2.82 ERA) and righty Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.82 ERA) are the scheduled starting pitchers.