World Series Game 1: The never-quit Phillies and shades of 1980
Philadelphia's comeback win felt a little bit like the last time these two teams faced off in the playoffs.
A 5-0 lead with Justin Verlander on the mound feels like a safe, easy win.
And yet, the outcome of World Series Game 1, an extra innings 6-5 Phillies victory, felt a lot like the last time these two teams faced off in the playoffs — the clinching game of the 1980 NLCS.
Houston was going to steamroll the Phillies. That was the narrative, anyway, but Philadelphia wasn't buying it, even after the Astros jumped ahead on the strength of two Kyle Tucker home runs.
As the Phillies have done all season and postseason, they answered back, scoring five runs of their own to chase Verlander.
A brand new game.
My book Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever is available wherever books are sold.
The bullpens shut down the offenses from there, registering zero after zero.
Philadelphia challenged in the seventh inning, loading the bases, with Nick Castellanos facing Héctor Neris. But Neris was able to get Castellanos chasing a pitch outside.
Houston nearly closed it out in the bottom of the ninth. Jose Altuve — whose bat has undergone an arctic freeze this postseason — chipped a ball to center that fell in for a single, then stole second on a bang-bang play that could have gone either way.
Jeremy Peña blooped a ball to right; if it fell, the game would have ended. But Castellanos was there to snare the ball and send the game to extras.
The first batter in the 10th for Philadelphia, J.T. Realmuto, worked the count full then drove a ball to right that fell in the crowd, feet beyond Tucker's glove, for a go-ahead home run.
Houston made things interesting in the tenth after Alex Bregman smashed a double to left field.
It was Tucker's turn one more time. He worked the count to 2-2 against Phillies pitcher David Robertson, before waving at a ball in the dirt for the strikeout.
Robertson pitched around Yuli Gurriel to face Aledmys Díaz, who entered the at-bat with a .071 batting average this postseason. The first pitch was in the dirt, and the runners advanced.
The second and third pitches came in around Díaz, and the third hit him, but the umpire ruled that Díaz leaned into the ball and ordered him to return to the batter's box.
Three-and-oh, with Game 1 on the line, and Aledmys Díaz was swinging away.
He missed, and grounded the next ball to the left side of the infield to seal the Phillies win.
The victory carries parallels to Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS, when Houston's then-ace, Nolan Ryan, couldn't hold a 5-2 lead and Philadelphia pushed across a run in the 10th inning for an improbable win.
Dating back to 1980, these two teams have played five consecutive playoff games that reached extra innings.
After bringing out the brooms against the Mariners and Yankees, Houston is beatable this postseason, after all. And what a series this is shaping up to be.