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Astros start fast, Phillies can’t solve Framber Valdez in dropping Game 2 of World Series

HOUSTON – Outfielder Kyle Tucker demurred Saturday afternoon when the question of urgency came up. Would he and his fellow Houston Astros, down a game in the 118th World Series, feel any extra urgency at the prospect of going to Philadelphia down two games to none?

“I don’t know if it’s urgency,” Tucker said. “We try and come out and win every single game. So that’s what we’re going to try to do today and try and get out to an early lead and try and keep it.”

What they came out with in Game 2 looked a lot like aggression. And a day after squandering a five-run lead, the Astros got both parts of the equation right this time around.

The Astros first three hitters doubled off an uncharacteristically hittable Zack Wheeler, giving them all the offense they would need to back a stellar Framber Valdez on the way to 5-2 win over the Phillies in Game 2.

The win knots the series at one apiece ahead of Monday’s Game 3, shifting to Philadelphia for three games.

The Astros came out swinging, so much so that Wheeler didn’t have a pitch reach the mitt of catcher J.T. Realmuto until the fourth batter of the game. Jose Altuve ripped the first pitch he saw, a center-cut four-seamer at 96 mph, down the left-field line. He slid in just before the throw of Kyle Schwarber, who cut the ball off well. Schwarber had no shot on Jeremy Pena’s double, on a first-pitch hanging curveball.

Yordan Alvarez fouled off a pitch, then clubbed a slider that did not slide off the face of the Crawford boxes. Four pitches in, the Astros led 2-0.

It would grow to 3-0 when Alvarez tagged up on a medium depth fly ball to center, then scored when Rhys Hoskins couldn’t dig a throw from shortstop Edmundo Sosa on a Yuli Gurriel grounder. The error went to Sosa, the fault clearly to Hoskins.

The Astros tacked on in the fifth, Alex Bregman bashing a two-run homer to left-center. The inning started with an Altuve single. He’s 4-for-his-last-5 after starting the postseason 3-for-36.

That was all Valdez needed, making sure there’d be no repeat of Game 1, in which an Astros starting pitcher allowed a 5-0 lead to fritter away. The lefty, who blossomed into an All-Star and Cy Young candidate, endured a terrible World Series in 2021, allowing 10 earned runs in just 4.2 innings. But the 17-game winner has matured considerably, as a major league record 25 straight quality starts demonstrated.

He added another Saturday. He allowed four hits, including a leadoff double to left-center by Nick Castellanos leading off the seventh. He was lifted after getting one more out, walking three and striking out nine. Valdez would be charged with a run when Jean Segura lifted a sac fly to left off reliever Rafael Montero to score Castellanos.

The Phillies got traffic on the bases in all but one inning on Valdez, but they didn’t reach third base safely until Castellanos. Valdez induced ground-ball double plays, from Matt Vierling and Bryce Harper, in the fifth and sixth innings. Harper had his postseason hitting streak ended at 12 games.

The Phillies threatened in the eighth, a preposterous half-inning. After Bryson Stott walked, Schwarber blasted what was originally called a two-run home run down the line in right. But the umpire on the line, James Hoye, was overruled, and a crew chief’s review confirmed it was foul. One pitch later, Schwarber flew out to the H-E-B sign in deep right.

The inning was extended when a routine grounder to Pena turned into him flipping to an uncovered second base, allowing Stott to get to third. It ended with Pena making an over-the-shoulder basket catch on Harper in shallow right-center.

The Phillies scored in the ninth when Alec Bohm doubled off closer Ryan Pressley and Gurriel booted a Brandon Marsh ball at first to allow the unearned run.

Wheeler went five innings. He allowed six hits and three walks, throwing just 69 pitches. His velocity topped out in the 96-mile-per-hour range after hitting 98 consistently in the NLCS.

Andrew Bellatti, Connor Brogdon and Brad Hand followed with scoreless innings.

Source: Berkshire mont

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