November 22, 2022

AL/NL Awards

Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt were named the 2022 Most Valuable Players in the American and National leagues. Judge received 28 of 30 first-place votes, with Shohei Ohtani receiving the other two.

Justin Verlander and Sandy Alcantara were both unanimous Cy Young Award winners.

Red Sox representation: Xander Bogaerts finished ninth and Rafael Devers finished 14th in AL MVP voting. Bogaerts received one fourth-place vote, two votes for fifth, and one for seventh. Devers received one vote for seventh, one for eighth and three for tenth.

BBWAA vote charts and individual ballots here.

November 13, 2022

The Only Effect Of The Extra-Inning-Runner-On-Second: Pushing Long-Time Fans Away From The Game

Mike Emeigh, a fellow member of the Society for American Baseball Research, shared some data on the extra-inning-runner-on-second and its effect on the length of games.

The rule was first used during the 2020 season.

                                       2019               2020-21
Games Played                        2429              3327
Extra-Inning Games                208 (8.6%) 284 (8.5%)
Extra-Innings Played                478 (2.3)           397 (1.4)
Runs Scored                          422 (.88/EI)      808 (2.04/EI)
EI Games Lasting At Least 12 innings     59 (28.3%)      22 (7.7%)
EI Games Lasting At Least 15 innings     16 (7.7%)          1 (0.35%)
Longest Game (Innings)               19                16
Average Length of EI Game (Innings)   11.3            10.4

The percentage of games that are tied after nine innings has stayed the same, but there are, as you would expect, more runs scored per extra-inning and a much higher percentage of games are decided by the eleventh inning.

What is interesting: Using the EIROS shortens the average extra-inning game by only one inning

In April 2021, I wrote:

In 2019, MLB teams played 2,429 games. (I searched for games in which the winning team pitched 9.1+, 10.1+, and 11.1+ innings.

2,221 games were completed in nine innings, or 91.5%.

2,312 games were completed in ten innings, or 95.2%.

2,370 games were completed in eleven innings, or 97.6%.

The entire 2019 season had a grand total 59 games that lasted more than two extra-innings. (That averages out to two games per team. Checking a few teams: Red Sox (6 games, 3-3), Yankees (3 games, 1-2), Padres (1 game, 1-0), Nationals (1 game, 0-1), Royals (1 game, 0-1).)

37 games went more than 12 innings. That's 1.52%. Or one game per week.

Excessively long games is not a problem.

I have written before that it is now possible for a pitcher to throw a perfect game and lose. Or, to put it another way, a pitcher can allow no opposing batters to reach base and lose the game when an opposing batter scores a run. Do we need any other reasons never to institute such a rule?

SABR's Trent McCotter made the same point in the summer of 2020 when he wrote:

[I]t is now possible for a team to have more runs scored than baserunners – a logical impossibility under the rules used for the last 150-plus years of baseball.

In the spring of 2021, McCotter stated:

MLB's supposedly temporary rule . . . saved only about (on average) 75 seconds of time on the field in each game, given the average time of an inning. Other disagree, but as for me, I'd rather give up 75 seconds, get rid of the gimmicky rule, and revert to the one that was good enough for the first 150 seasons.

November 6, 2022

World Series 6: Astros 4, Phillies 1

Phillies - 000 001 000 - 1  3  0
Astros - 000 004 00x - 4 7 0
In Game 1, Houston's Aledmys Diaz, with his team trailing the Phillies 6-5 with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, tried to keep a potential game-saving rally going by extravagantly leaning his left elbow into a pitch. But instead of loading the bases for the Astros, the play was nullified by plate umpire James Hoye. Diaz was in violation of Rule 5.05(b), which says a batter must make an effort to avoid geting hit with a pitched ball. Two pitches later, Diaz grounded out, giving the Phillies a series-opening win.

In Game 6, Houston's Martin Maldonado, with his team trailing the Phillies 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, tried to get a potential rally going by leaning his left elbow into a pitch. Plate umpire Lance Barksdale signaled hit-by-pitch and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto immediately mentioned Maldonado's deliberate attempt to get plunked. The Phillies challenged the HBP call and while we waited, replays from every angle showed Maldonado without question moving his elbow down and into the path of the pitch. (P.S: Maldonado used an illegal bat in Game 1. Fox was very ho-hum about this news. Was a gag order part of its broadcasting contract with MLB?

The ruling from the Replay Center came in . . . upholding Barksdale's blown call. Maldonado, who had moved considerably closer to the plate after his third-inning at-bat, trotted down to first. Jose Altuve forced Maldonado at second and Jeremy Pena's single into center put Astros at first and third. Phillies manager Rob Thomson pulled starter Zack Wheeler (5.1-3-2-1-5, 70) and brought in Jose Alvarado.

After ducking away from a 99.2 mph sinker up and in, Yordan Alvarez's eyes lit up at another sinker, this one coming in more or less right down the middle, and he crushed it high and deep to dead center, where it found a home 450 feet from the plate, in the hands of Jim Rice (not that one; this guy is a lifelong Astros fan). The pitch was clocked at 98.9 mph pitch, which is the fastest pitch Alvarez has hit for a homer in his four-year career (104 dongs, regular season and postseason combined).

Alvarez's blast was the third time in this postseason that he homered to give his team the lead when it had been trailing in the sixth inning or later. No other player in baseball history has done that more than once. Again, Alvarz did it three times in this postseason.

The Astros tacked on another run to take a 4-1 lead that probably felt like 40-1 to the Phillies. Houston manager Dusty Baker called it a night for starter Framber Valdez (6-2-1-2-9, 93) and went to his top bullpen arms, who have been insanely great this postseason. As the top of the ninth began, Philadelphia still had a 3% chance of winning this game, but most of the teams that previously pulled that off were not facing the Houston's October 2022 bullpen. The Phillies had a 0% chance -- and they mostly likely knew it.

Hector Neris got a pop-up and two strikeouts in the seventh. Bryan Abreu pitched a perfect eighth. In the ninth, Ryan Pressly retired Rhys Hoskins on a fly ball to right. The next three Phillies all put the first pitch into play, the last two hacking at balls outside the strike zone as if they simply wanted this whole thing to be over as soon as possible. Realmuto lined a single to center, Bryce Harper popped up to left, and Nick Castellanos fouled out to Tucker in right.

The Houston Astros are the 2022 World Champions of Major League Baseball. Manfred presented them with a Piece of MetalÔ.
They are the first team to clinch the World Series at home since the 2013 Red Sox. There had been seven straight World Series in which the winning team clinched on the road, the longest streak of road winners in history. (The 2020 WS was played at a neutral site and not included in this factoid.)

The Astros' bullpen finished the postseason with a 0.83 ERA, the lowest of any team in any postseason (min. 35 IP). The 1973 Oakland Athletics, led by the dastardly Rollie Fingers*, previously held the record (1.05).

[*: In 1972, Fingers batted .316 and hit one of his two career home runs. He was 6-for-19 and struck out only three times.]

There have been 94 teams whose bullpens pitched 35+ innings in a single postseason. Of those 94 teams, the 2022 Astros' pen had:
the lowest ERA: 0.83 (5 earned runs in 54.1 innings)
the lowest opponents' batting average: .126
the lowest opponents' on-base percentage: .215
the lowest opponents' slugging percentage: .208
the lowest opponents' OPS (of course): .423
the lowest WHIP: 0.75
Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly combined for a 0.00 ERA in 22.1 innings in the postseason (there was one unearned run). They struck out 32 of the 85 batters they faced. 

Jeremy Peña (10-for-25, .400/.423/.600/1.023) became only the third rookie -- and the first rookie position player -- to be named World Series MVP, joining pitchers Larry Sherry (1959 Dodgers) and Livan Hernández (1997 Marlins). Peña was also the MVP of the ALCS (in which the MFY were swept). He finished the postseason with an OPS of 1.005: 20-for-58, .345/.367/.638.

Peña is also the first rookie to have at least one hit in six straight World Series games. Three other rookies have hits in six games in a single WS, but the games were not consecutive: Jimmy Sebring (1903), Mike McCormick (1940), Tom Tresh (1962), and Chuck Knoblauch (1991).

After the Phillies hit five home runs and won Game 3, it looked like they held the upper hand. But after the fifth inning of that 7-0 victory, they ended up scoring only three runs on 10 hits over the next 30 innings. That's one run and three hits per nine innings -- not a recipe for success at any level.

For Dusty Baker, his first World Series championship as a manager was a long time coming. Baker has managed 3,884 regular-season games, which is now the most games on a managerial resume for a first-time World Series winner. Bruce Bochy won in 2010 after 2,574 regular season games. This was also Baker's 97th postseason game as a manager, also a new record, surpassing Dave Roberts's 65 games when he won with the Dodgers in 2020.

Baker played on the 1981 Dodgers (who beat the MFY in the WS) and then waited 40 years to win a title as a manager. The previous longest span between two World Series titles as player and/or manager was Bob Lemon's 29 years. 

When Baker was hired as the Giants' manager in late 1992, he was only 43, the youngest manager in the majors. Now, at 73, he's the oldest manager or head coach in MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL history to win a championship.

Wheeler and Valdez dueled brilliantly through the first five innings.

Valdez began the game by walking Schwarber (actually, Schwarber looked at strike three and took a few steps towards the dugout before realizing that Lance Barksdale had blown the call). But Hoskins grounded into a double play. Realmuto was apparently hit on the front foot, but replays seemed to show the ball going over his cleat and hitting the dirt between his feet. (It was a great start for Barksdale, who would of course fuck up several more times before the night was over!)

In the second, Alex Bohm singled to center and Matt Vierling walked with two outs. Edmundo Sosa lifted a fly to deep left center, but Alvarez was there near the warning track to catch it. Valdez struck out the side in the third, although it appeared that Hoskins had singled over the third base bag with one out. The ball landed very close to the foul line. Third base umpire Dan Issaonga ruled it a foul ball, but for his call to be correct, the ball would have had to move like Oswald's magic bullet. Since it was curving foul off the bat, if it did manage to pass over the bag in foul territory, it would have had to then quickly bend in the opposite direction to land so close to the line.

Wheeler made a nice play in the third when, with a man on first, Chas McCormick grounded back to the mound. The business end of his bat was also flying towards the mound. Wheeler ducked, turned, and threw to Jean Segura at second for the force. Segura had to contend with the bat as well, as it nearly made it to the infield dirt by second base on the fly. It ended up skittering into the outfield. Maldonado also reached base, but Jose Altuve went down by way of the K.

Valdez had retired 10 Phillies in a row (including striking out five consecutive batters) when Schwarber led off the top of the sixth with a home run to right. That lead did not last very long, however, as Houston scored for times in the home half. (More on Altuve and Schwarbs below.)

After Alvarez's bomb gave the Astros a 3-1 lead, Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado, possibly shook by the blast, went to 3-0 on Alex Bregman before issuing a full-count walk. His first pitch to Kyle Tucker was wild, moving Bregman to second. Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson might have wanted to make a pitching change, but he could do nothing because Alvarado had been forced to face Bregman and then he was forced to face Tucker -- because another of Manfred's asinine rules is that a relief pitcher must face at least three batters (unless the inning ends). Alvarado struck out Tucker (a 10-pitch at-bat) and  so the manager could finally manage again, bringing in Seranthony Dominguez. Somebody Named Christian Vazquez lined a single to left, scoring Bregman.

As mentioned, the Phillies could do nothing against the Astros pen. How bleak did it get? Schwarber actually bunted with two outs in the eighth, fouling off a 1-2 pitch, thus striking out and ending the inning.

It was 8:17 when the game ended. Some part of me still expects World Series games to not start until after 8:17! Turn back the clocks a little early, and it was over at roughly quarter after seven!
On Sportsnet, Dave Flemming and Dan Plesac acted like the Astros held an insurmountable lead when the game was 0-0. Once the sixth inning was over, and Houston actually did have an insurmountable lead, we wisely decided to watch the rest on mute. 

I wish I had kept a list of Dan Plesac's many "modes" from either Game 1 or 2. By the time I realized it was a thing, it was too late. I kept track today, but only heard three: Segura was in "protect mode" (second inning), Altuve was in "swing mode" (third), and Castellanos was in "struggle mode" (fourth). At some point, he said one of the pitchers was on "cruise control". I practically interrupted him. Don't you mean "cruise mode"?

Wait. I take that back. My Game 2 scorecard has the word "mode" circled and these notes: "7-8x/gm, survival, swing, take, cruise, battle". . . . I knew I was right about cruise! They also used the phrase "soft serve" about five or six times, which made me really want a creemee (is that word only a Vermont thing?).

Just copious amounts of stupidity. It was not possible for me to go back and double check my quotes, so you'll have to trust me:

Plesac, after Vierling had seen three sliders in the second: "He hasn't seen the curveball yet, so he might be looking for a fastball." Wha? That made no sense. Plesac was dead wrong, of course: Vierling got another slider.

Plesac, after Tucker battles Wheeler for 10 pitches and walks: "Wheeler wasn't going to give in to Tucker." Did anyone really think that after seven pitches or so, Wheeler was going to throw up his hands, say fuck it and groove a fastball that Tucker could hammer?

Flemming's habit of saying "Wouldn't it be amazing" if this or that happened was highly annoying. How about calling what happens rather than what you wish would happen, Mr. PBP?

Flemming, after Altuve fouled off a pitch in the third to keep the count at 2-2: "Might be time [for Wheeler] to go away, maybe a big, sweeping breaking ball." Flemming was dead wrong, of course: Inside fastball at 98, Altuve swung and missed, inning over.

Plesac, earlier in that at-bat, praised Altuve for a "good job of watching that pitch" (which was outside). Shit, I could probably stand there and watch pitches. Maybe if Plesac ever manages a team, I'll call him up and ask for a try-out.

Sportsnet shows side-by-side overhead shots of Maldonado batting in the third and the sixth. He's much closer to the plate in the sixth. Flemming: "I think that was by design." Do you? You don't think major league hitters (and in the World Fucking Series, too) just amble up to the plate and stand wherever?

When McCormick bats in the fifth, Sportsnet shows a replay of his shattered bat's barrel flying nearly to second base in the air. Flemming helpfully points out that he's coming up "with a different bat" this time. (Okay, here's a spot I wish I could go back and get the exact quote.)

Before the game, they said Valdez's pitch count was "limitless". Wow, this could be interesting. I thought Dusty wasn't allowed to ruin young arms anymore. As Valdez started the top of the sixth, "limitless" was substantially revised down to 90-95 pitches. He was at 79 at that point and ended up throwing 93 pitches in six innings.

Schwarber, a left-handed hitter, led off that inning with a solo home run off Valdez, who had (according to these clowns, I didn't check it) allowed only one dong to a lefty all season. The Sportsnet duo said the fact of Schwarber going deep here was "stunning" and "it almost seems impossible". For fucks' sake . . . 

Trey Mancini began this game 0-for-18 in the postseason. Plesac was going on about how tough it was for him, maybe he found it hard to believe in himself, and whatnot. Somehow Mancini lined an opposite field single to right. "Now he feels like he's part of this World Series!" Later, as he walked to the plate in the fifth, they said: "He looks like a different hitter", as his Shlabotnikian .053 batting average appeared on-screen. Dead wrong again, of course: Mancini struck out. He finished the postseason 1-for-21. It turned out he was the same hitter.

Honestly, it almost made me wish for Joe Buck. . . . "That's just because you aren't hearing him now," Laura told me. . . . She's probably right. Plus, he'd be polishing Judge's balls the entire time.

November 3, 2022

World Series 5: Astros 3, Phillies 2

Astros   - 100 100 010 - 3  9  0 
Phillies - 100 000 010 - 2 6 1
The Phillies had plenty of men on base in Game 5 on Thursday night, but came up short again and again and again when it came to a big hit that would bring in some runs. They ended up leaving 12 men on base, stranding at least one runner in seven of the nine innings. That inability to seize numerous opportunities allowed the Astros to grab a 3-2 win -- and a 3-2 lead in the series.

Justin Verlander (5-4-1-4-6, 94) grinded out five innings and was credited with the first World Series win of his 17-year career (his ninth WS start). "It wasn't easy. It was a lot of work." 

The Astros will head home with two chances to win the coveted Piece of MetalÔ. Game 6 will be on Saturday night, with a possible Game 7 on Sunday night (both at 8 PM ET).

The last team to clinch the World Series in its home ballpark was the 2013 Red Sox. Each of the last seven WS winners have clinched on the road, the longest streak of road clinches in history.

The Astros struck quickly against Phillies starter Noah Syndergaard (3-3-2-0-4, 44). Jose Altuve doubled on the second pitch of the game to deep right-center. Brandon Marsh misplayed the carom and then bobbled the ball, allowing Altuve to go to third. With the infild in, Jeremy Pena grounded a single to th eleft of shortstop and into left-center, and Houston led 1-0. Yordan Alvarez struck out into a double play, as Pena was thrown out trying to steal second. Alex Bregman struck out to end the inning.

In the home half, Kyle Schwarber homered on verlander's second pitch and the game was tied 1-1. Bryce Harper, who was on base four times, walked with two outs, but was stranded.

The Phillies tried to get something going with two outs in the second. Jean Segura singled to left and Verlander walked both Marsh and Schwarber (on five pitches each). The bases were loaded for Rhys Hoskins, but he struck out on a slider out of the zone; it was the first of four strikeouts, prompting MLB Errors to ask: "Why does Rhys Hoskins bat second in this lineup?").

In the third, Harper (again) walked with one out and Alex Bohm singled with two out, but Bryson Stott flied out to right. (Jayson Stark noted that this was Harper's first multi-walk game since September 25, nearly six weeks ago. "He has totally been in swing mode through this postseason")

The Astros had gone in order in both the second and third innings, but Pena began the fourth with a home run to left (the first rookie shortstop to homer in World Series history). Connor Brogdon came out of the pen and got three strikeouts, but he also gave up a loud one-out double to Bregman that nearly cleared the wall in left. Yuri Gurriel struck out to end the inning. It was his first strikeout of this postseason. He had gone 48 plate appearances without a K, the third-longest streak in history, behind Joey "the Weasel" Cora (51 PAs in 1995) and David "The Grittiest Gritter That Ever Gritted A Grit" Eckstein (50 PAs in 2006).

In two innings of work, Brogdon struck out five, tying Bob Turley (1955) and Kenta Maeda (2018) for the second-most whiffs in a two-inning stint. Todd Worrell fanned six in two innings in Game 5 of the 1985 World Series.

Verlander pitched a clean fourth and gave up a hard-hit double to Harper with two away in the fifth. The exit velocity was measured at 115.3 mph, the hardest ball hit off Verlander in all season. Nick Castellanos saw 10 pitches (and fouled off five of them) before Verlander got him on a pop-up to to left. Verlander threw 27 pitches in what was his last inning.

Philadelphia's Jose Alvarado allowed a leadoff single to Altuve in the sixth and he hit Bregman with two outs, but he escaped any harm.

Bohm greeted Hector Neris by whacking a single to right. Bryan Abreu came in with two outs and hit Marsh in the left knee, but got Schwarber on a grounder to second.

The Astros threatened again in the seventh. Gurriel doubled off Seranthony Dominguez to open the inning and went to third on a wild pitch. Chas McCormick grounded to third. The infield was in and Gurriel was (for some reason) heading down the line towards the plate. He was tagged out 5-2-6-3 in a rundown and got hit in the head by Hoskins's knee for his trouble.

The Phillies went in order in the seventh and the Astros increased their lead in the eighth. Dominguez walked Altuve and allowd a single to Pena. David Robertson came in and got Alvarez to ground to first. Hoskins moved towards the ball like he wanted to come home with a throw, but the ball hit off the heel of his glove. He recovered and was able to tag Alvarez, but Altuve scored. Robertson issued an eight-pitch walk to Bregman and gave up a loud shot to right by Kyle Tucker. It looked like the ball might sail over Castellanos's head, but he ran back and reached up with a little leap and snared the ball. Trey Mancini batted for Gurriel and struck out.

Now down by two, the Philles faced Rafael Montero in the bottom of the eighth. Castellanos worked a walk, even though Montero might have been given a gift strike two by plate umpire Jordan Baker. Montero got ahead of Bohm 1-2 on three high pitches (including two fouls), then went a bit away and got him swinging and missing. Stott looked at four balls and took first base. Segura punched a single to right, scoring Castellanos, cuutting the Astros' lead to 3-2.

Segura's hit was the first hit off the Astros bullpen in this postseason with a runner at third and/or second. They had faced 188 batters before Segura stepped in.

Astros manager Dusty Baker called on closer Ryan Pressly, who came in having thrown 8.1 scoreless postseason innings. Marsh (0-for-7 vs Pressly with four strikeouts) was his first batter -- and he was overmatched, fouling off two sliders and missing a third. Schwarber was expected to fare a bit better, veen though he was 0-for-6 against Pressly, with two walks. Down 1-2, he smoked a hot, low grounder down the first base line. Mancini, playing in the field for the first time since October 5, was right there, scooping up the ball at the bag.

Houston had two sngles in the ninth, but the Phillies got out of trouble thanks to a brilliant double play turned by Bohm. Altuve grounded to the Philadelphia third baseman, who grabbed the ball, took four or five steps to the bag, forced the runner, and fired a cross-body throw across the diamond to nip Altuve at first.

Then it was do or die time, with the Phillies 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Pressly kept the ball low to Hoskins, who fouled off the first four pitches and took a ball. Then Pressly went up with a fastball at the top of the zone and Hoskins fanned. J.T. Realmuto cranked a 1-1 pitch to deep right-center. McCormick tracked it from center, timing his leap at the wall perfectly, reaching up as far as he could, and catching the ball as he slammed into the wire fencing. He fell to the warning track, landing on his back, but made sure to hold his glove up.

Two outs! 

Pressly hit Harper in the front foot with his 2-1 pitch and Castellanos stood in as the potential winning run. He flailed at a low slider and fouled off a pitch right down the middle. Pressly then missed low and away with three pitches: slider, curve, and changeup, bouncing the last two in the dirt. He came in with an another slider, over the plate, but a bit up, and Castellanos hit it to Pena. The shortstop's throw was on target and the Astros were one win away from a title.

Pressly's five outs were the second-most outs he has recorded in save in either the regular season or postseason. He had a two-inning save on May 6, 2021.

This is kind of nuts. Sarah Langs tweeted:
"There have been 3 postseason no-hitters and the team that was no-hit led off the next game with a HR TWICE
Tonight Phillies
2010 NLDS G2 Reds (also at CBP!)"

"The Phillies are the 6th team in MLB history to hit a leadoff HR the game after being no-hit, including postseason
it actually happened after the OTHER PS no-no here, too!
2010 NLDS G2 CIN
4/29/03 SF
9/12/91 SD
7/4/70 OAK
9/19/68 SF
h/t @EliasSports"

Since Schwarber did not actually "le[a]d off the next game", but led off the first inning for his team, in the bottom of the first because his team was playing at home, it would be far more accurate to say "the team that was no-hit had their first batter in the next game hit a home run".

WS Factoids: Cristian Javier Is The First Pitcher In MLB History
To Have 6 Consecutive Starts Of 5+ Innings And 2 Or Fewer Hits Allowed

Jayson Stark of The Athletic has some great factoids related to last night's historic game:

First, here are Cristian Javier's last six starts:

September 14 at Tigers:   6 innings, 2 hits
September 20 at Rays:  5 innings, 1 hit
September 25 at Orioles:  6 innings, 1 hit
October 1 vs Rays:  6 innings, 2 hits
October 22 at Yankees: 5.1 innings, 1 hit (ALCS Game 3)
November 2 at Phillies: 6 innings, 0 hits (World Series Game 4)

That's only seven hits allowed in six starts (34.1 innings)!

Over those six starts, opposing hitters are 7-for-105. That's .067. There was one relief appearance in that stretch: In ALDS Game 1 on October 11, Javier went 1.1 innings out of the pen, facing five batters and allowing one hit. Throw that in, and opponents are an anemic 8-for-110 (.073) against him since September 14.

According to Baseball Reference's database, which is nearly complete over the last 107 years, no pitcher has ever had six straight regular season and/or postseason starts of five innings or more, allowing two hits or fewer. No one.

The 2022 Phillies now hold the dubious distinction of being the only team in major league history (regular season or postseason) to hit five home runs in one game and get no-hit in their next game. There have been three instances in the regular season of teams hitting four dongs and then getting no-hit:

1956 Phillies - September 23-25 (No-hitter: Sal Maglie, Giants)
1964 Mets - June 20-21 (No-hitter: Jim Bunning, Phillies)
2015 Mets - June 7-9 (No-hitter: Chris Heston, Giants)

The Astros had five games in 2022 in which their starting pitcher allowed no hits and struck out at least nine:

June 25 — Cristian Javier (7-0-0-1-13, 115)
August 23 — Justin Verlander (6-0-0-0-10, 91)
September 16 — Justin Verlander (5-0-0-1- 9, 79)
October 4 — Justin Verlander (5-0-0-1-10, 77)
November 2 — Cristian Javier (6-0-0-2- 9, 97)

Five starts in just over the last four months. According to STATS, no other team has made five starts like that over the last 35 seasons combined.

In the last 117 World Series (1903-2021), there has never been more than two consecutive games in which a team led by 5-0 or more. But in World Series #118:

Game 1: Astros lead 5-0
Game 2: Astros lead 5-0
Game 3: Phillies lead 7-0
Game 4: Astros lead 5-0

It's happened in two games in a row . . . in both cities.

November 2, 2022

World Series 4: Astros 5, Phillies 0

Updated: New 4th & 6th paragraphs.
Astros   - 000 050 000 - 5 10  0
Phillies - 000 000 000 - 0  0  0
Astros pitchers Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly combined for only the second no-hitter in World Series history. It was 66 years ago that Don Larsen of the Yankees, an unlikely candidate to achieve such pitching immortality, no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

Houston batted around in the fifth inning, scoring all of their runs in a 5-0 win that re-knotted the series at two wins apiece. The Astros guaranteed that they will play at least one more game in Houston.

Javier (6-0-0-2-9, 97) was making only his third career postseason start and he was brilliant, allowing only two flyballs to the outfield and retiring his last 11 batters. Abreu struck out the side in the seventh, Montero pitched a clean eighth, and Pressly issued a one-out walk but otherwise had no trouble. Three walks were issued: Harper, to start the second (he stole second with two outs), Brandon Marsh with one out in the third, and Kyle Schwarber with one down in the ninth.

While I understand the annoyance of watching managers pull pitchers in the process of throwing a no-hitter, Javier had thrown 97 pitches through six innings. That's an average of 16.2 per inning: 15-17-18 12-15-20. At that pace, if he had gone nine innings, his pitch count would have been 146. He has never thrown a complete game, minors or majors, in 101 starts. I'm hard pressed to name many managers who would have allowed an extremely talented 25-year-old pitcher to throw 150+ pitches on a chilly night in November, after already throwing 155 innings this season.

The four Astros pitchers totalled 14 strikeouts and completely tamed the heart of the Phillies' lineup. Philadelphia's #3-6 hitters -- J.T. Realmuto, Harper, Nick Castellanos, and Alex Bohm -- went 0-for-12 with 11 strikeouts.

Houston's pitchers held the Phillies to an expected batting average of .081, which is the lowest single-game xBA for any team in any postseason game in the Statcast Era (since 2015). (xBA measures the likelihood that a batted ball will become a hit, based on how often comparable balls, in terms of exit velocity, launch angle and, on certain batted balls, the fielder's sprint speed, have become hits since Statcast was implemented in 2015.)

The Astros threatened to score against Aaron Nola (4-7-3-0-4, 67) before the explosion in the fifth. Kyle Tucker led off the second with a double to the wall in right. He went to third on a groundout and Christian Vázquez was hit by a pitch. Nola stranded the two runners by striking out Aledmys Díaz and Chas McCormick. Yuri Gurriel and Vázquez both singled with two outs in the fourth, but Díaz grounded to short.

McCormick, Jose Altuve, and Jeremy Pena singled to open the fifth, loading the bases and chasing Nola. Jose Alvarado's first pitch plunked Yordan Alvarez in the side and brought in Houston's first run. (It was the eighth bases-loaded HBP in World Series history and the first one with no outs.) Alex Bregman sliced a double towards the corner in right for two more runs. Alvarez scored on Tucker's fly out to center and Gurriel's single to left scored Bregman with the fifth run.

The Astros' pitching staff has an active streak of 11 consecutive no-hit World Series innings, which is a record, tied with the 1939 Yankees for the longest streak. Red Ruffing finished Game 1 against the Reds with four no-hit innings and Monte Pearson did not allow a hit for the first seven innings of Game 2.

However: In Game 1, Ruffing allowed a leadoff single in the fifth before getting a strikeout and a double play. That fifth inning included a hit, but he recorded 15 outs after it happened. In Game 2, Pearson got the first out of the eighth (his 22nd out) before giving up a single. So the Yankees recorded 37 consecutive outs without allowing a hit.

Houston's current streak stands at 36 outs (three outs after a leadoff hit in the sixth inning of Game 3 + the seventh and eighth innings of Game 3 + the nine-inning no-hitter tonight).

November 1, 2022

World Series 3: Phillies 7, Astros 0

Astros   - 000 000 000 - 0  5  0
Phillies - 220 030 00x - 7 7 0
The Astros had five singles. . . . The Phillies had five home runs.

The Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the World Series on Tuesday night with a 7-0 rout of the Astros. They still have a chance to win the World Series on their home turf, where they are 22-9 (.710) in the postseason, the best home postseason record of any team in any park (min. 20 games).

Bryce Harper hit a two-run shot in the first, Alex Bohm led off the second with a solo blast and Brandon Marsh followed two outs later with his own dinger. In the fifth, Kyle Schwarber (with a man on) and Rhys Hoskins went back-to-back. All five homers were hit off Lance McCullers (4.1-6-7-1-5, 78), who is now the only pitcher to allow five homers in a World Series game.

The Phillies are the first team to hit five home runs in the first five innings of a World Series game. . . . They are also the first team to hit three homers in the first two innings of a World Series game. . . . The five homers also ties a record for the most dongs in a WS game (1928 Yankees, Game 4; 1989 Athletics, Game 3).

The Phillies went 0-for-3 with RATS:

Most Runs In Postseason Game, No Hits With RATS
8 - 1977 Yankees, World Series Game 6
7 - 2022 Phillies, World Series Game 3
7 - 2004 Cardinals, NLCS Game 1
7 - 1928 Yankees, World Series Game 4
Ranger Suárez (5-3-0-1-4, 76) had very little trouble with the Astros. He gave up two singles with two outs in the second, but fanned Chas McCormick to end the threat. In the fourth, he allowed a walk and a single with two outs, but got Jose Altuve to foul out to first. A quartet of relievers went the rest of the way.

Factoid: "This is the first time the Astros have been shut out 7-0 or worse in a road game since July 26, 2017. That game was played at ... Philadelphia!" And: "Oddly enough, they had been shut out 7-0 or worse *at home* 7 times in that span, including twice in the postseason. But not on the road ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ "

Work took me away from watching this one, so no grumping about the announcers or umpires. However, I remembered something I forgot to mention after Game 1. One of the Sportsnet clowns was discussing the Astros lineup and he noted that Houston was without "probably their best player" (or maybe he said "most complete player"; I really hope (for his sake) he said "probably"). He was talking about . . . (drum roll pls) . . . Michael Brantley.

Yeah. I don't think even Michael Brantley's mother believes he's the best hitter on the Astros.

Some basic stats:
                  AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS 
Yordan Alvarez   .306/.406/.613/1.019  37 HR  288 TB
Jose Altuve    .300/.387/.533/ .921  28 HR 281 TB
Alex Bregman  .259/.366/.454/ .820  23 HR  249 TB
Kyle Tucker   .257/.330/.478/ .808  30 HR  260 TB
Michael Brantley .288/.370/.416/ .785  5 HR  101 TB
It should be noted that Brantley played in only 64 games this season. But his 125 OPS+ ranked fifth on the team.

In 2021, he played in 121 games and his OPS+ was again fifth on the team; he was 8th on the team in WAR.

It's like saying Andrew Benintendi (4th in OPS+) was the best hitter on the 2018 Red Sox.