World Series Game 5 Phillies lose to Astros
PHILADELPHIA — For all the pitching machinery, hand-wringing over rest and matchups with relievers, the 118th World Series comes down to one simple fact.
One team is able to put the ball in play consistently. The other simply isn’t.
The Phillies played that role again Thursday night. While not to the historic extent of the Game 4 no-hitter, the bats remain somnolent in Game 5, pushed to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 loss to Houston.
The Phillies left 12 men on base, including six in scoring position. They were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and struck out 13 times, their fifth straight double-digit strikeout game in this series, including four rally-killing strikeouts from Rhys Hoskins and three from JT Realmuto.
The Phillies appeared to start strong, with Kyle Schwarber leading off with his fifth homer of the postseason, and finally broke through in an eighth-inning rally. But Houston closer Ryan Pressly extinguished that threat by getting Schwarber to strike out hard against Astros first baseman Trey Mancini.
Game 1 walk-off hero Realmuto charged into a ball in the ninth, but West Chester native Chas McCormick tracked it down and crashed into the scoreboard to do so. Pressly then worked around hitting Bryce Harper with a pitch to get Nick Castellanos to ground out to end the game.
The Phillies got more or less what they needed from the pitching staff, starting with Noah Syndergaard. He survived one inning through the Astros order plus one batter, despite allowing them to score four pitches in. Jose Altuve, who did not swing the first pitch for a rare plate appearance in this series, instead missed a home run with inches into right-center on Syndergaard’s second delivery for a double. He advanced to third when Brandon Marsh struggled to pick the ball up the middle, and scored two pitches later, Jeremy Pena singled backwards in the infield.
But Syndergaard settled down and got two strikeouts to end the inning, helped by Realmuto throwing out Pena and trying to steal second to complete a double play. Syndergaard retired eight straight batters before Thomson got a little greedy, sending him out to start the fourth, knowing the next hit allowed would likely be his last. It happened to be a long fly ball that Pena moved 350 feet out to the left side, clearing the wall with a line of fans to spare to make it 2-1.
The Phillies let Justin Verlander off the hook too many times, especially when they had the chance to seize the psychological advantage. Verlander had coughed up a 5-0 lead in Game 1 of the World Series and had an 0-6 record and a 6.08 ERA in eight previous Fall Classic starts. He then promptly refunded the lead within two pitches, Schwarber going yard on a solo shot. It ended a 12-inning scoreless streak for the Phillies, who hadn’t had a hit in their previous 40 plate appearances.
But Verlander otherwise escaped injury, falling in line with an Astros staff that has generally dazzled. A single and two walks loaded the bases with two outs in the second. But Hoskins was too nervous, an impatient game that led to a strikeout while the Astros were warming up a reliever.
Bryson Stott, hacking on the first pitch, flied out to right field with two on in the third. Bryce Harper doubled with two out in the fifth — or hit a single that Gold Glover Kyle Tucker literally set up in a two-bagger — but went no further, Nick Castellanos flied out to left after a 10-pitch scramble.
That ended Verlander’s day. He allowed just one run and four hits in five innings, walking four but striking out six, the last three, in 94 pitches.
The Phillies’ bullpen, which has been terrific all series, continued to keep them in the game. Connor Brogdon retired six of the seven batters he faced, five with punchouts. He worked around Alex Bregman’s one-out double, which hit the top of the Sherwin Williams sign in left, in the fourth.
Jose Alvarado navigated around Altuve’s single to lead off the sixth. Sensing a chance to tip the momentum, Rob Thomson walked Seranthony Dominguez early in the seventh. He was faced by a Yuli Gurriel double but survived, Gurriel caught in a third-and-home bunt on a McCormick groundout.
The Astros tacked on a run in the eighth, charged to Dominguez. He allowed a walk and a hit-and-run single to Pena before exiting. Yordan Alvarez’s grounder to first by David Robertson scored Altuve to make it 3-1.
The Phillies finally broke through in the eighth, with Castellanos and Stott doing the work. Jean Segura, who had been 3-for-31 since the end of the division series, pounded his second hit of the day to score a run. But Pressly entered to whiff Marsh, then got Schwarber to rope a one-hopper to Mancini.