Phillies have felt this pain before, ‘confident as ever' entering Game 5 vs. Verlander


Thursday night might be the first time in big Noah Syndergaard's career that he'll enter a game as David rather than Goliath.

Syndergaard is tasked with helping the Phillies move back in front of the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series when he opposes future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils are right back in a precarious spot after being no-hit Wednesday in Game 4 as the Astros evened the series and ensured that it would head back to Houston.

The Phillies continue to prove they're capable of anything. Hit five homers to match a World Series record? Yep. Get no-hit the next night? Sure.

If there's one thing they've demonstrated consistently, it's that they can take a punch and respond the next night. The Phillies have suffered more setbacks than they can count this season but are still in a better position than 28 other teams, needing two more wins to finish the job.

"Honestly, I think tomorrow, we're going to be the same way we've been all season long. We're together, we're competing, we're united," said reliever Jose Alvarado, who hit Yordan Alvarez with the bases loaded to put the Astros ahead in the fifth inning, allowed three of Aaron Nola's inherited runners to score and surrendered two of his own.

Game 4 was the second time this year the Phillies have been no-hit. The Mets pitched a combined no-hitter against them back on April 29 in the 11th game of the season. The Phils came back to win the next night with late homers from Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins.

"These guys, they've got a short memory," manager Rob Thomson said. "They're going to go home tonight, they're going to go to bed and come back in here tomorrow and prep and compete like they always do."

The Phils displayed a short memory to begin this series when they fell behind 5-0 in Game 1 but scored five runs off of Verlander in the fourth and fifth innings of an eventual extra-inning win.

They face another major challenge in their rematch with Verlander despite his well-documented history in the World Series. Verlander is 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in the World Series, but in truth, three of his eight starts have been very good. It's not as if he's struggled every time he's pitched on the biggest stage and it's not as if there is some mental block he experiences in the Fall Classic that he cannot overcome.

The Phils shouldn't be cocky against Verlander and they won't be. They're going up against a former MVP and soon-to-be three-time Cy Young-winner who is capable of doing the same thing to them that Cristian Javier did Wednesday. Verlander pitched at least five no-hit innings three different times this season and had two more starts of eight scoreless innings with two or fewer hits.

"We don't care about the number in the hit column, all we care about is the number in the run column," Alec Bohm said. "We lost the game, come back and play tomorrow. Final home game, I think it's going to be pretty exciting."

The Phillies will have the crowd on their side for one last time this postseason. The series shifts back to Minute Maid Park after Game 5, and whether they head to Houston up 3-2 or down 3-2, they'll get another date with Framber Valdez in Game 6. The Phillies do not want to go into that game needing a win to survive.

The bats must step up Thursday. Syndergaard is not expected to go deep into the game, and the Astros have already shown what they can do offensively. Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman, Jeremy Peña and Yuli Gurriel all swung it well in Game 4. Houston has hit Nola twice and scored five runs off of Zack Wheeler in Game 2. The Phils' most effective pitcher in this World Series has been Ranger Suarez, but he likely won't be available Thursday after pitching five innings on short rest Tuesday.

Nonetheless, the Phillies didn't leave the ballpark after Game 4 feeling defeated. They've experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows in 2022 and are going to lean on the lessons they've learned.

"Confident as ever," Bohm said. "I don't think anybody is worried. Tonight stays here and tomorrow is a new day. Save some hits for tomorrow."

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