Phils' captivating postseason run ends in Houston as Astros win World Series


HOUSTON -- They rode with Philly Rob farther than anyone expected, but now the journey is over.

A captivating postseason run that began with an improbable ninth-inning rally in St. Louis a month ago and included dramatic series wins over Atlanta and San Diego in super-charged Citizens Bank Park ended for the Phillies when the Houston Astros rolled to a 4-1 victory in Game 6 of the World Series on Saturday night.

Houston's Yordan Alvarez clubbed a mammoth three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to bring the Astros back from a 1-0 deficit and lift them to their second World Series title in six years. The World Series championship was the first in Dusty Baker's 25 years as a big-league manager.

The Phillies won Game 1 of the series on the road and Game 3 at home, but the offense disappeared after that. The Phils were no-hit in Game 4. They lost Game 5 by a score of 3-2. They had just three hits in Game 6 and struck out 12 times. Overall, Phillies hitters set a World Series record with 71 strikeouts. 

Zack Wheeler suffered the loss in Game 2 and again in Game 6. He pitched shutout ball for five innings before hitting a batter and giving up a single in the sixth. Jose Alvarado came on with two men on base and allowed the homer to Alvarez.

Lefty Framber Valdez struck out nine over six innings for the win. He also struck out nine in Game 2.

Losing three straight games in the World Series is not a good way to go out, but this Phillies team had quite a run. Rob Thomson, humble and likable, took over as manager on June 3 when the team was seven games under .500. The Phils went 65-46 under Thomson the remainder of the season and broke a 10-year playoff drought.

The Phils then took off on an inspiring playoff run -- Red October -- that electrified a sports-loving city and made it feel like the days of Jimmy, Chase, Ryan, Cole, Chooch and Big Chuck again. 

On a November Saturday night in Houston, Red October ended. But it sure was fun while it lasted.

Minute Maid Park crackled with energy before the game. Nervous energy. Both teams felt it. The fans felt it.

The tension grew over the first five innings. The starting pitchers were sharp in matching zeroes that span. Valdez used his curveball/sinker mix to strike out eight over that span and Wheeler struck out five.

Wheeler's fastball velocity was down in his Game 2 start -- a 5-2 loss -- and he was given two days' extra rest before this start. The hope was that the extra rest would restore some of the zip on Wheeler's heater. 

It did.

Wheeler came out firing 97s, 98s and 99s in the first five innings. He broke three bats on hard sinkers in the third inning. He ended that frame by striking out dangerous Jose Altuve with 98 mph heat to strand a runner on second.

With the way Valdez and Wheeler were dealing, it was going to take a mistake for one of the teams to get on the scoreboard.

Valdez made one in the top of the sixth. He threw a 2-2 sinker to Kyle Schwarber that stayed down and in, right in a lefty hitter's happy zone. Schwarber jumped on the 95.7 mph pitch and drove it on a line into the right-field seats to give the Phils a 1-0 lead.

Schwarber's 52nd homer of the year and sixth of the postseason threw a cold hush into the huge crowd. Wheeler went out in the bottom of the inning and needed to keep the crowd quiet.

Instead, he woke it up when he hit the first batter of the frame, No. 9 hitter Martin Maldonado on the left arm with a pitch. Maldonado was erased on a fielder's choice by Altuve and the next batter, Jeremy Peña, singled up the middle to put runners on first and third. It's a game of inches. Another foot or so to the left and Peña's ball is a double play. 

With the fans in a full lather and Wheeler facing his first real jam of the night, Thomson continued his playoff pattern of being aggressive with his bullpen. He went to the lefty Alvarado as lefty slugger Yordan Alvarez came to the plate. Alvarez hit .306 with 37 homers and 97 RBIs during the regular season, but he'd been quiet in the first five games of the World Series. He was just 2 for 21 when he came to the plate against Alvarado.

Alvarez fouled off the first pitch of the showdown, a 98-mph sinker. He then missed with a cutter and a 99-mph sinker to fall behind in the count, 2-1. Alvarado went back to his sinker and Alvarez took the swing of a man who was looking for that pitch. The ball came off his bat at 112.5 miles per hour and traveled 450 feet over the batter's eye in center field. The three-run homer gave the Astros a 3-1 lead and the roar of the crowd nearly blew the roof off Minute Maid Park.

Before the inning was over, Alvarado issued a walk and threw a wild pitch. Seranthony Dominguez came on and allowed an RBI single to Christian Vazquez to make it a 4-1 game.

The life was gone for the Phillies after that. Hector Neris, who had pitched in 405 games for the Phillies over the previous eight seasons before signing with Houston last winter, came on for the Astros and poured salt in the Phillies' wound by striking out two en route to a scoreless seventh inning.

The rest of the game was just a countdown of outs and a party in the stands as the Astros completed the journey to their second World Series title in six years and the Phillies headed home.

Subscribe to Phillies Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube

Contact Us