October 29, 2022

World Series 2: Astros 5, Phillies 2

Phillies - 000 000 101 - 2  6  1 
Astros - 300 020 00x - 5 7 2
For the second night in a row, the Astros jumped out to a 5-0 lead. On Saturday, they were able to keep their advantage, holding off the Phillies 5-2 and evening up the World Series at one game apiece.

It's now a best-of-5 with the first three games in Philadelphia. Game 3 will be played on Monday night.

Phillies starter Zach Wheeler (5-6-5-3-3, 69) fell behind quickly. Jose Altuve hit his first pitch for a double. Jeremy Pena hit his second pitch for a run-scoring double. Yordan Alvarez fouled off Wheeler's third pitch and doubled on his fourth. Four pitches in, and the Astros led 2-0. A third run scored with two outs when first baseman Rhys Hoskins could not glove a low throw from shortstop Edmundo Sosa. Alex Bregman clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth.

Framber Valdez (6.1-4-1-3-9, 104) kept a tight lid on the Phillies' offense. He allowed one-out walks in the first and second innings and a one-out single in the third, but none of those runners advanced at all. His pitch count was somewhat high (55) through three innings (22-15-18). After a clean fourth, a leadoff single in the fifth was erased on a double play. 

Kyle Schwarber walked to start the top of the sixth and Hoskins singled to left-center. It was the first time the Phillies had two baserunners. The rally fizzled, however, as Valdez struck out J.T. Realmuto with some high heat and Bryce Harper grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Nick Castellanos doubled into the left-center field gap to open the seventh. Valdez retired Alex Bohm on a groundout before handing the ball off to Rafael Montero. Castellanos had taken third on the grounder and he scored on Jean Segura's sacrifice fly to left.

Bryson Stott (batting for Sosa) led off the eighth and battled Montero for a 12-pitch walk. Schwarber saw a handful of pitches before lifting a 2-2 pitch to deep right. The ball sailed past the foul pole, but it was hard to tell if it was fair or foul. It seemed fair, as Schwarber circled the bases and the Sportsnet scorebug said 5-3, but the drive was eventually ruled foul. Schwarber grabbed his bat again and hit the next pitch to deep right, driving Kyle Tucker to within one step of the wall, but the Astros outfielder caught this one without difficulty.

After Hoskins struck out, Realmuto singled up the middle. Pena ranged to his left and flipped the ball to second, hoping to force Stott, but second baseman Altuve was not there. He was crouched down with his back to Pena, watching what he assumed was going to be Pena's throw to first. So the Phillies had runners at first and third, but Harper again could not deliver. He popped up to short (and finished the game 0-for-4, leaving five men left on base).

Houston's Ryan Pressly came in to nail it down in the ninth. Castellanos fanned on a changeup for the first out. Plate umpire Pat Hoberg called a good game -- he is one of the best at calling balls and strikes -- but he started expanding the strike zone in the final two innings when the Phillies were batting. A called strike 2 to Hoskins in the eighth was questionable, as were strikes 1 and 2 to Castellanos to start the ninth. The first pitch to Bohm was too far inside, but Hoberg called it a strike anyway. Bohm looked at a ball and doubled to left-center. Philadelphia needed to string a few hits together before making another out, but Segura hacked at a low 2-2 pitch and golfed it to Tucker in right. Brandon Marsh grounded a ball to first that skipped past Yuri Gurriel for an error. Bohm scored and Marsh went to at second. Stott rapped a routine grounder to second for the third out.

The Phillies ended the night 0-for-7 with RATS, six of those at-bats coming in the final three innings.

Laura and I ended up watching the last half of the game on mute, talking about the brilliance of Blood on the Tracks and what would be on our respective short lists of concerts to go back in time and see. This was a wise move because I'm sure Sportsnet's Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac grew more insufferable as Houston's win expectancy increased.

I suspected very early on in Game 1 that anything either of those guys said about a particular player was likely bullshit. Both of these guys (like many postseason announcers) did not follow either team until the playoffs. At best, I assume they asked around a little bit and then regurgitated whatever they were told as if it was the gospel truth. (At some point tonight, I remarked that I wished I had my own little research department. Say, two people. When an announcer said (as was said tonight), "the Astros know how to hit the heater", I could call out, "How did Houston's batting average against fastballs this year?" and one of my two assistants would look it up. Looking at FanGraphs, Astros batters saw the fewest fastballs (as a % of pitches) in the AL, but they also led the AL in Weighted Fastball Runs, so maybe it's true -- although I'm sure the announcer had batting average in mind (or maybe something fancy, like OPS).)

In the bottom of the first, Houston was up 2-0. Tucker flied out to center and Alvarez tagged at second and went to third. Matt Vierling's throw was late and it short-hopped Bohm and went into foul territory. Plesac explained that Vierling had "air-mailed" the throw. The ball bounced in front of the fielder! How could Plesac not know that "air-mailing" a throw means having the ball sail way over Bohm's head and maybe even go into the stands on the fly. You know, like how an airplane carrying sacks of letters and packages (by air mail!) flies high in the sky?

Also, Plesac's only point of reference seems to be players from his era. He pitched a long time -- 1986-2003 -- and the only names I heard dropped were Terry Mulholland (whose career covered almost the same years as Plesac) and maybe a couple of guys from the 1993 Phillies. Looking at the roster doesn't help me remember who they were (maybe he only said the year). Anyway, excellent work connecting with the younger fans who might be watching. Someone supposedly threw a curveball like an old pitcher they have never heard of and then offer a short essay about a team that no one talks much about from 30 years ago.

Neither Flemming or Plesac (a former pitcher) seem to guess correctly about what a pitcher would do next. Admittedly, I did not listen carefully all the time, but any time I would tune in, they would anticipate a pitch away (for example) and it would be inside or low. Despite being wrong, they would do it all over again. And be dead wrong again. There was never any acknowledgement of being wrong; it was as if whatever they said had not been spoken.

I wish TV announcers did not feel the need to fill every second with words. It's not radio, we can see what's going on. Having pockets of dead air . . . maybe 20-30 seconds . . . throughout the game would not be a bad thing. Because most of what gets said during a broadcast is not necessary. It's just noise, no different than the short, loud blasts of music that disrupt and pollute the atmosphere in the ball park. A colour guy who offered his thoughts only when something really needed to be said or explained would be most welcome, I think. You certainly wouldn't lose anything. I mean, if you went with a friend to a game and were talking about it, you'd have plenty of moments when you didn't say anything. . . . More thoughts from a grumpy old man on Monday . . .


johngoldfine said...

Your game recaps are as good as ever--but, as always, the cherry on top is when you go full-grouch on announcers. And if you can work in a jeremiad against Rob Manfred and his doings or Angel Hernandez and other miserable plate umpires--well, can a cherry on top have more cherries on top of it?

Paul Hickman said...

That is indeed a Superb Album from Bob !

Is it a portent of baserunning to come ?

Perhaps some Blood on the Basepaths ......

Definitely won't get Tangled up in Dodger Blue this year

But needed Shelter from the Storm after Buckets of Rain delayed Game 3

And surely it will be a simple twist of fate that might decide it all ?