This team does not quit. Plain and simple. The Phillies fell into an early hole in game one to a juggernaut Astros squad, and yet somehow clawed their way out of it using situational hitting, unbelievable relief pitching, and the unlikeliest of fielding heroics. After Friday night’s wild ride the Phils now hold a crucial 1-0 series lead.
Aaron Nola got the start for the Phillies in game one and ran into a bit of bad luck. Kyle Tucker tagged him for two home runs, the first of which barely got out, and in between the Astros dinked and dunked their way on base. A hit and run and a few bloop singles made things that much worse, and Houston had a 5-0 lead after three innings.
However, the Phillies answered right back, putting up three runs in the top of the fourth. They strung together three singles from Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos, and a two-run double from Alec Bohm made it a 5-3 ball game.
After Nola worked a one-two-three bottom of the fourth, the Phils went right back to work, with a leadoff double from Brandon Marsh and a walk to Kyle Schwarber put two runners on for J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies’ catcher blasted a double off the left-center field wall, scoring both runners to tie the ballgame.
The game surprisingly settled into a pitchers’ duel after that, with neither team scoring through the ninth inning. The Phils’ bullpen was marvelous in this one, as José Alvarado, Zach Eflin, Ranger Suárez and Seranthony Domínguez all kept the Astros off the board.
With the game tied at five heading into the tenth, Realmuto played the hero once again, launching an opposite field solo homer off of Luis García to give the Phillies a 6-5 lead. Since both Domínguez and Alvarado had been used, Phillies Manager Rob Thomson called on David Robertson to close things out. Robertson started off strong by punching out Yordan Alvarez, but started to look shaky when he surrendered a one-out double to Alex Bregman.
He punched Kyle Tucker’s ticket to bring Houston down to their final out, but walked Yuli Gurriel to put the winning run on base. A wild pitch moved the runners up to second and third and ratcheted up the pressure even further.
Pinch hitter Aledmys Díaz tried to weasel his way on base, leaning into a 2-0 pitch. However, the home plate umpire, James Hoye, correctly called Díaz back to the plate to finish his at bat. Díaz ultimately rolled one over to Edmundo Sosa at third base to end what was one of the most remarkable comebacks in postseason history.
Friday night’s rollercoaster will be absolutely critical to the Phillies’ chances of winning this World Series. Fans and pundits alike have harped on the fact that this team needed to win at least one in Houston, and return to Philadelphia with a chance to win at home. By taking game one the Phils not only secured at least a split of the first two games, but now have a chance to take a commanding 2-0 lead. They’ll look to do so on Saturday night when ace Zack Wheeler squares off against rising star Framber Valdez.