PHILADELPHIA — One night after an Astros pitcher made World Series history with an infamous outing, another Astros pitcher chased baseball history while lifting Houston into the World Series driver’s seat.
With an amazing display of command and control Wednesday night, the Astros’ Cristian Javier no-hit the Phillies for six brilliant innings, then turned it over to the bullpen to finish off a 5-0 Houston victory, re-tying the Series at two games each.
It was just the second no-hitter in World Series history, the other being the Yankees’ Don Larsen’s perfect game on Oct. 8, 1956, when he beat the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was also the second no-hitter in the postseason at Citizens Bank Park, the other being Roy Halladay’s no-hit gem in the opener of the 2010 NLDS, the Phillies beating the Cincinnati Reds.
Suddenly, the Astros are looking very good again, not only wresting home field advantage back entering Game 5 Thursday night, but also with veteran ace Justin Verlander on the mound then against lightly used Noah Syndergaard.
Really, the closest thing to a Phillies hit was the line drive Jean Segura smacked in the bottom of the eighth, which was hit hard but flagged easily by right fielder Kyle Tucker.
Amazing how ill-humored history can be. Phillies starter Aaron Nola, never granted favored status by the baseball gods when it came to run support during his career here, started a game back in April against the Mets in which four Mets relievers combined to no-hit the Phils.
It could be easily presumed that no one could foresee Nola losing in a no-hit game by the other against again in the World Series. But there he was on the mound, in the biggest start of his career … not able to get through the fifth inning. A five-run Houston fifth was all the visitors would need.
Nola, who couldn’t get through the fifth in his last two starts, the Series opener and Game 2 of the NLCS against San Diego, allowed three consecutive singles to start that inning before getting pulled. Reliever Jose Alvarado came on and promptly allowed the Astros to get four more than they needed.
Javier is the first pitcher since the Mets’ Jerry Koosman in Game 2 of the 1969 World Series to take a no-hit bid to six innings or longer in the Fall Classic. He joins Anibal Sanchez (Game 1 of the ALCS for Detroit in 2013) as the only pitchers in postseason history to throw at least six innings, allowing no hits and nine or more strikeouts.
Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly breezed through the Phillies over the final three innings before a disbelieving crowd.
For his spot, Nola got in a spot of trouble in the top of the second, giving up a leadoff double to Tucker. He smartly advanced to third on a grounder to Alec Bohm, then Nola hit the next batter, Christian Vazquez.
But Nola struck out Aledmys Diaz, and got the No. 9 hitter, West Chester naive Chas McCormick, on a 2-2 hook to end the inning.
Nola again gave up a pair of hits, both coming with two outs, in the fourth, as first Yuli Gurriel, then Vazquez reached. But Diaz swung at a first pitch and bounced lightly to short, where Bryson Stott hurried a throw to first base, nipping Diaz by maybe a half-step.
It all came apart the next inning, as Nola first gave up a single to deep short to McCormick, who easily beat Stott’s effort from the grass to first. Then Altuve stroked a single to left, and Jeremy Pena did the same, his off an 0-2 count that was the seventh Astros hit of the game with no outs in the fifth.
Manager Rob Thomson didn’t like that so much and he sent Nola packing, bringing in Alvarado to try to mitigate disaster with power trio Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Tucker looming.
It wouldn’t go well. Alvarado plunked Alvarez with his first pitch. Then Bregman planted an 0-2 fastball into the right-field corner for a 3-0 Houston lead. Alvarado limited Tucker to a sacrifice fly to center for a fourth Astros run, but gave up a single to Gurriel as the Astros took a 5-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Javier was making 46,000-plus people at Citizens Bank Park forget all about the record-tying smash of a performance of the night before, when the five-homer Phils knocked the Astros to the tune of a 7-0 Game 3 domination.
Instead, with Nola knocked out early, Javier was painting corners all night. The Phillies, as they’ve so often done, had nothing even resembling plate support for him. Javier would walk only two in a six-inning stint in which he allowed no hits.
Abreu then carved through the heart of the Phillies’ order in the seventh, making Bryce Harper look particularly bad on a couple of pitches before throwing a 100 mph pitch past his feeble third-strike swing. By the time Nick Castellanos followed that up with his third strikeout of the night, the fans were almost in boo mode.
Of course, with the likes of that Top Gun actor who’s been here every night lately and that certain rock star from Freehold, N.J. who probably drove himself down the Turnpike to the game taking up high-priced space in the park … the crowd reaction could have been much worse.
Source: Berkshire mont