The Philadelphia Phillies were no-hit by the Houston Astros 5-0 on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The no-hitter, the second in World Series history, was a combined effort from starting pitcher Cristian Javier and relievers Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly.
The Astros scored all five of their runs in the fifth inning on the evening off of Aaron Nola and Jose Alvarado. With the loss, the Phillies find the World Series tied at 2-2 with a return trip to Houston for Game Six guaranteed.
Phillies and Astros Sputter Out of the Gate
After a quiet first inning, Kyle Tucker took an 0-2 breaking ball from Nola into right field for a lead-off double. Yuli Gurriel then grounded out to third base on the next pitch, advancing Tucker to third on the play. Christian Vazquez was then hit-by-pitch by Nola, putting runners on the corners with one out. Nola quickly dispatched Aledmys Diaz and Chas McCormick on back-to-back strikeouts, escaping the jam unharmed.
Bryce Harper and Brandon Marsh each reached base on a walk in the second and third innings, respectively. The pair both stole second base off the Astros’ catcher, but where left stranded both innings as the Phillies remained hitless and scoreless through the first three innings.
After relieving seven straight Astros batters, Nola found himself in a bind in the top of the fourth, allowing back-to-back base hits to Gurriel and Vazquez. Nola then forced a grounder to Stott to end the inning unscathed.
McCormick, a West Chester, Pa. native, led off the top of the fifth with an infield single to shortstop Bryson Stott. Jose Altuve then followed up with a single of his own into left field, putting two runners on base with no outs. Then, after attempting to bunt unsuccessfully on an 0-1 pitch, Jeremy Pena hit a single into left field. The single was hit directly in front of Kyle Schwarber, preventing McCormick from scoring from second base on the play.
Jose Alvarado Fails in Relief for Phillies
With the bases loaded, no outs, and Yordan Alvarez due up for the Astros, Phillies’ manager Rob Thomson elected to go to the bullpen, calling in Jose Alvarado to work the Phillies out of the jam.
On his first pitch, Alvarado plunked Alvarez in the ribs, scoring McCormick to give the Astros their first run since Sunday. Alex Bregman then followed up with an 0-2 double into right field, scoring two runs to increase the Astros’ lead.
And so Nola’s tab was closed, having thrown 67 pitches in four-plus innings of work. He allowed three runs on seven hits on the day, striking out four Astros batters.
Kyle Tucker then hit a sacrifice fly into center field, scoring Alvarez while advancing Bregman to third. Gurriel closed out the Astros’ scoring on the inning, batting in Bregman on a single into left field. Alvarado then struck out Vasquez and Diaz to end the bleeding as the Astros claimed a 5-0 lead for the third time in the series.
Cristian Javier: The Hitless Wonder
Astros’ starting pitcher Cristian Javier entered the contest pitching having pitched an amazing postseason. Game Four was not exception. Through six innings, Javier allowed zero runs and zero hits while striking out nine Phillies batters. Those Phillies who had managed to get bat onto ball primarily hit under the ball, resulting in many pop flies and fly-outs.
The Astros went to the bullpen to begin the bottom of the seventh inning as Bryan Abreu entered with J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, and Nick Castellanos due up for the Phillies. Abreu successfully retired the middle of the Phillies’ order in order, leaving the Phillies with six outs to recover from their deficit.
The Final Two Innings
Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott recorded two quick outs in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Rafael Montero. Jean Segura then hit the Phillies’ best batted ball thus far, a line drive into right field, which went directly into the glove of Kyle Tucker. The Phillies, down by five runs, found themselves hitless with but three outs remaining.
Brandon Marsh struck out swinging against Ryan Pressly to begin the bottom of the ninth. Kyle Schwarber then stepped up to the bat, working to a full count against the Astros’ primary closer. After fouling off a curveball, Schwarber worked a walk, giving the Phillies their first baserunner since the third inning. Rhys Hoskins then flew out to right field for the second out as all eyes fell to Gold Glove catcher J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto then grounded out on the first pitch to third base as the Astros stormed the field in celebration of the combined no-hitter.
The Astros’s combined no-hitter is the second no-hitter in World Series history and only the third in postseason history. Don Larsen threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. In more recent history, Phillies fans remember Roy Halladay’s no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game One of the 2010 NLDS. The Phillies now find themselves on the receiving end of history, officially going down as one of only three organizations to be no-hit in the postseason.
Cristian Javier dominated the Phillies’ bats on the day. He spotted his fastball well, using it for 70 of his 97 pitches on the game. He also threw his slider 25 times. The Phillies only managed to make contact on one of Javier’s sliders and only nine of his pitches overall with only three of them being hard hit. In addition, Javier struck out nine Phillies’ batters, six on fastballs, three on sliders.
While Aaron Nola has now faced trouble in three straight postseason outings, it is worth noting that it really did not matter how many runs he allowed on the day. Nola and Alvarado could have escaped the fifth inning with only one run allowed, but if the Phillies’ offense could not even manage a hit against Javier or the Astros’ bullpen, one run would have been all that they needed.
Following Wednesday night’s historic defeat, the Phillies will look to bounce back on Thursday night as they return to Citizens Bank Park for Game Five. The World Series will then return to Houston for Game Six on Saturday night with Game Seven, if necessary, on Sunday.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip