The Houston Astros secured their second World Series championship in six seasons and granted Dusty Baker his inaugural title as a manager by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 in Game 6 on Saturday night. Yordan Alvarez delivered a remarkable, game-changing home run. (WPVI) – PHILADELPHIA
Fans in the crowd of 42,948 enthusiastically waved their orange rally towels as Astros pitcher Framber Valdez excitedly jumped and loudly yelled in the dugout, right after Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler was substituted with a 1-0 advantage. In the sixth inning, Alvarez crushed a powerful three-run homer, which traveled approximately 450 feet and vanished into the distance.
“When I was approaching second base, I sensed the entire stadium shifting,” Alvarez expressed through an interpreter.
Finally, in his 25th season as manager, Dusty Baker got his first title, after being hired by the Astros to help the team regain credibility following the sign-stealing scandal, which cost Houston the trust of most baseball fans and led to the reviling of their general manager, Jeff Luhnow, and manager, A.J. Hinch.
The most senior manager in any of the four main North American sports is the 73-year-old Baker, who had previously been to the World Series twice as a skipper. Leading the San Francisco Giants, he came close to winning the championship, falling just five outs short, two decades after a near-miss.
“What comes after this? I mentioned that if I win one, I want to win two,” Baker stated later.
Before the players joined them on the field, they were in the dugout chanting “Dusty! Dusty! Dusty!” And jumping up and down. After Nick Castellanos flied out to end it, Baker circled around the Houston coaching staffs and training.
Astros rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña was the World Series MVP after getting another key hit, a single to set up Alvarez’s drive.
In his first season with OptaSTATS, Peña became the first hitter to win three awards – the AL Championship Series MVP and the Gold Glove award. He was also born in the Dominican Republic and is a 25-year-old star.
During this playoff season, it marked the initial occasion when the Cuban power hitter made contact since the first two matches. Alvarez’s home run effortlessly soared beyond the batter’s eye in the direct center, the scenic background that stretches 40 feet above the playing field.
He said, “And that is exactly what I accomplished.” “During the swing, I made an effort to stay calm and select a good pitch. That’s what I did,” he said this time.
Christian Vázquez later contributed with a run batted in single during the inning, resulting in a score of 4-1.
Valdez secured his second consecutive win in this series. He dominated the game by pitching six innings, striking out nine batters, and throwing his 93rd pitch. After only a few minutes in the dugout, he was back on the mound.
But the lefty had walked off the mound with the wild-card Phillies up 1-0 on Kyle Schwarber’s homer leading off the sixth.
In the past four games, Schwarber, who hit a home run in the third inning, rounded the bases while waving his empty hand in the same motion as the fans with their towels, as he raised his hand.
In the eighth inning, Schwarber batted for the Phillies and attempted to bunt in an effort to stir up some offense. However, his attempt resulted in two strikes with a foul bunt, reducing the NL’s home run leader’s chances of hitting a run.
Peña and Altuve both hit ground balls resulting in a forceout, causing Houston to have two runners on base against Wheeler for the first time in the game in the sixth inning after Martín Maldonado was struck by a pitch.
In the fourth time of the series, the lefty slugger Alvarez had been hit by a pitch three times and had popped out twice against Alvarado, the left-handed reliever.
Thomson stated, “I think it was about time that I just had a matchup with Alvarez on Alvarado. It wasn’t really good. I still thought Wheels had some great stuff.”
Alvarez smashed the 99 mph sinker when his 2-1 delivery, throughout his six major league seasons, had only permitted three home runs to left-handed batters.
Thomson expressed, “During the sixth inning, I had confidence that the usual relievers in the bullpen could handle it.” Thomson mentioned, “It was a challenging inning and I believed, you know, leading up to the series it was always Alvarado relying on Alvarez.”
Alvarez hadn’t homered since Game 2 of the AL Division Series against Seattle when he came after his three-run shot in the sixth inning to put them up, winning 8-7.
The Astros were defeated in four games by the Chicago White Sox, while still playing in the National League, and had their sole other World Series appearance in 2005. In a consecutive manner, they reached the AL Championship Series six times during a period in which they reached their fourth World Series and emerged victorious in 106 games, the highest in the American League. Houston emerged as the winners.
The team had employed a camera in center field to steal signs and signal hitters about the expected pitches, in addition to banging on a garbage can. This practice came to light after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers disclosed it in 2019, after he had left Houston following his involvement in their 2017 championship. It is worth noting that this was their third ALCS appearance and their second consecutive World Series appearance.
In the beginning of June, Joe Girardi was terminated and substituted by bench coach Thomson, the 59-year-old baseball veteran receiving his initial opportunity as a major league manager – he served on the Yankees major league staff for 10 seasons with Girardi, and was involved in their previous World Series and championship in 2009. Philadelphia had a record of 22-29.
Since 2009, the Phillies concluded the regular season with a record of 65-46 under Thomson, their 87 victories placing them in the sixth and last position in the NL playoffs, en route to their inaugural World Series.
Valdez became the only left-hander other than Sandy Koufax in 1963 to strike out five consecutive batters in the World Series, fanning Harper Bryce on a missed 97 mph sinker that started inside on the corner and ended up clearly disagreeing with the umpire’s home plate call, before Castellanos’ 10-pitch at-bat that ended with him taking a 96 mph pitch on the inside corner.
When Wheeler was on the mound, Chas McCormick’s bat shattered while he slid into second base, sending the barrel of the bat flying over his head and landing on the outfield grass. Despite the broken bats, Wheeler managed to make a play between third base and the bottom of the inning, at least three Houston bats broke.
Segura, the second baseman, made a play by throwing the ball towards the running Mancini and him, who was still moving between first and second base. Wheeler, the outfielder, slid to the edge of the grass in the outfield and finally landed on second base after sliding on the short grass. The bat handle at the plate shattered when McCormick’s second bat, which was changed after his first postseason career hit, was hit by a sinker pitch at 97 mph. In addition, Trey Mancini singled in his first postseason career hit after a midseason change.
In Game 2 defeat, Wheeler surrendered three doubles and two runs within his initial four pitches. Seven days later, his initial four pitches culminated in a strikeout of Altuve, and the right-handed pitcher equaled a personal record by requiring only seven pitches to escape the first inning.
Wheeler finished with 70 pitches, allowing two runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.
The Phillies will be back in Texas to begin their regular season in March, playing the opener of an interleague series against the Texas Rangers, approximately 250 miles away: in less than four months.
The Astros, reigning champions of the World Series, will host their 2023 season opener at home on March 30. It remains uncertain whether Baker and/or general manager James Click will return, as neither of them has signed contracts beyond this current season.