The Houston Astros entered the World Series perfect for the postseason. They extinguished the sizzling Seattle Mariners, and then sent New York Yankees fans spiraling. And in Game 1 of the World Series, they looked inevitable, getting out to a 5-0 lead after three innings with Justin Verlander perfect the first time through the Philadelphia lineup.
None of that phased the Phillies though. They’ve been on a Frank the Tank debate heater the entire playoffs, and needed all of two innings to tie the game and chase the Houston ace. I’ve stopped being shocked by what anybody on the NL champs does. Nick Castellanos got the comeback started, plating Rhys Hoskins for the first score of the game, and he prevented a bloop walk-off in the bottom of the ninth with a sliding grab with two outs to rob Jeremy Peña.
Alec Bohm had two RBI and some impressive defense on the hot corner. And then there was J.T. Realmuto, who took a foul ball off the catcher’s mask late in the contest and didn’t flinch. He tied the game in the fifth with a two-run double, then put the Phils ahead in the top of the 10th for the first time all night with an opposite-field solo shot that was a couple feet over Astros’ would-be Game 1 hero Kyle Tucker. Realmuto is the first catcher with an extra innings home run in the World Series since Carlton Fisk in 1975. (Yes, it was that Cartlon Fisk home run you’re thinking of.)
Who knows, this could just be a one-off on the way to a gentleman’s sweep a la Allen Iverson against the Shaq-Kobe Lakers in the NBA Finals. It would be foolish to think that though, because every time Philadelphia has trailed or looked on the ropes, the Phils reach into the recesses of their asses and pull out a clutch AB or a big defensive play.
When they tied the game with five unanswered runs, at no point did I think they were losing. Pretty much every bat in the dugout and arm in the bullpen has been dangled over an open flame the past few weeks and refused to blink. Brandon Marsh looks like a passable Jayson Werth knockoff, Bryce Harper drove in another run tonight, and Kyle Schwarber face-planted into the left field wall and it didn’t cost them the game.
The bullpen pitched 5.2 innings of scoreless baseball, scattered four hits, and struck out seven while only walking two. No reliever gave up more than a hit.
There’s getting hot at the right time, and then there’s what Philadelphia is doing. Manager Rob Thomson could send the Phanatic to the mound to get a couple of key outs, and I wouldn’t question it. They made Houston bleed previously unbled blood, but I doubt anyone on the team even noticed.
They stopped being surprised by their success sometime during the Atlanta series, and regardless of how you feel about the new playoff format, or the city and its fans, you, too, shouldn’t be shocked, surprised, stunned, or stupefied by this run or anything this Phillies team accomplishes — at least not anymore.