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Astros 5, Phillies 0: Combining for history in World Series Game 4

Cristian Javier and the bullpen held Philadelphia hitless to even the World Series

MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Philadelphia Phillies
Brilliance: Cristian Javier pitched six innings without allowing a hit. Houston’s bullpen would proceed to complete a combined no-hitter.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros showed that they have no interest in fading away in the World Series, as their pitching staff made history in its victory over the Phillies on Wednesday. As a result, the series is tied at two, as Houston pulled away for a 5-0 victory in Philadelphia.

After a quiet first inning, the first extra-base hit went to the red-hot Kyle Tucker, who sliced a double to right to open the second. Yuli Gurriel, the next batter, hit a routine grounder to third. In most cases, it would have been a simple 5-3 ground out with no advancement of the runner, but Tucker made an excellent play to get to third base. Phillies starter Aaron Nola then hit Christian Vázquez with a pitch to put runners on the corners with one out. However, Nola recovered, striking out Aledmys Díaz with a cutter and getting Chas McCormick with a breaking ball to end the scoring threat.

The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth, when the Astros broke through for a huge inning. Nola, who had been mostly in control through four, allowed three straight singles to open the fifth. With Chas McCormick, José Altuve, and Jeremy Peña on base with no outs, José Alvarado replaced Nola to face Yordan Álvarez. On Alavardo’s first pitch, he hit Álvarez with a 99 mph fastball to force in the first run of the game. The next batter, Alex Bregman, made Houston’s situation even better.

That double drove in a pair of runs, and made the score 3-0. Bregman became the fifth consecutive Astro to reach base safely, and Houston still had two runners in scoring position with no outs. Tucker was the first Astro of the inning to be retired, but even then, he drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Gurriel capped off the five-run inning with an RBI single to drive in Bregman.

Meanwhile, the Phillies had no hits against Astros starter Cristian Javier, who lasted six innings. Philadelphia had a pair of mild scoring opportunities when Bryce Harper walked and stole a base in the second, and Brandon Marsh did the same in the third. However, both of them were stranded after masterful pitching by Javier.

Javier was removed after six brilliant innings on the mound, and at that point, Houston had a 5-0 lead. At 97 pitches, and with a commanding lead, the decision to remove Javier was understandable, even though he was dealing. The Astros bullpen had the task of protecting the five-run lead, and this was more than easy enough for Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly. Those three relievers covered an inning each, and they did so without allowing any runs. Oh, and as for that bid for a combined no-hitter, they got that, too.

On top of the combined no-hitter, the Astros only issued three walks, and they accumulated 14 strikeouts. Also, the Phillies expected batting average was only .081 in this game, per Baseball Savant. In other words, while luck often plays a sizable role in no-hitters, Houston did not need much in this one.

Congratulations to the Astros for pulling off this historic achievement. Going on the road in front of a crowd as lively as the Philadelphia’s and completely shutting down the opposition is not easy, but their pitching staff pulled it off. Momentum was entirely on the Phillies side after Philadelphia flexed its power with the dominant Game 3 victory, but that changed in a big way on Wednesday.

Game 5 is scheduled to begin on Thursday at 7:03 p.m. Central. That game will be televised on FOX, and ESPN Radio will have the radio coverage. Justin Verlander and Noah Syndergaard are the probable starting pitchers.