World Championship: Framber Valdez & Astros Even Series with 2 Win

World Championship: Framber Valdez & Astros Even Series with 2 Win

HOUSTON – The Philadelphia Phillies gave sharp notice at the World Championships opening Friday that they are here for more than just decorative reasons.

Houston, who entered as the favorite and hasn’t previously faced anything she can’t handle after this season, took note. Then the Astros appeared in Game 2 like a team that had spent a long night thinking about how to let things slip in Game 1, and decided they would never let that happen again.

Working quickly, powerfully and decisively, the Astros colorized three rounds in the first half on Saturday night, seemingly before singing the last notes of the national anthem. Phillies’ Zach Wheeler barely finished tying the laces in his cleats before Jose Altov, Jeremy Peña and Yordan Alvarez knocked him off balance, and the Astros were on their way to a 5-2 win, in the evening series.

Now, thanks to that and Framber Valdez’s impressive six and third innings, the venue returns to Philadelphia for Game Three on Monday night on a completely different tone.

“This team has a short memory of bad events and bad games,” Houston manager Dusty Becker said. “You can’t bring yesterday into today or else it will go on.”

They didn’t, and they didn’t.

The Astros became the first team in World Championship history to start a game with three consecutive key strokes. Doing so, it was as if they simply couldn’t wait to erase the memory of the pentagram race they blew up Their loss is 6-5, 10 games in game 1.

Altuve, the team’s retreating man, tore down the first pitch of the game, sinking 96 mph, into the left field corner for a double.

Rookie Peña, who made the second pitch of the game, climbed an 82-mph curveball, left to score another double.

Then came Alvarez, the team’s designated hitter, whose appearance seemed to take a long time in comparison. He missed the first pitch Wheeler, a fastball at 96 mph, then broke through the second pitch, sliding 92 mph, digging it the same way Altuve and Peña did, to the left for the third time in a row.

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“I was pulling for a fourth, actually,” Baker said of the three doubles. “Try to score as many kicks as possible. Because you know Wheeler is one of the toughest players in baseball.”

For those to score at home, two pitches at the bottom of the first half, the Astros led, 1-0. They advanced by four pitches 2-0.

Defender Chas McCormick said of his team’s style, the Astros know Wheeler has solid cutting and a tough fast ball, “so we hit hard.” “We will not sit on soft things.”

Although Wheeler missed a month late in the season with tendinitis in his forearm, he’s been in great shape this season. He ran back-to-back 11-degree rounds to start a playoff, which, along with a negative streak to finish the regular season, extended to the 19-degree scoreless innings.

His 1.78 ERA this post-season entering Saturday’s start is ranked third all-time by Ramy Velez with a 20-round minimum in one post-season, trailing Steve Carlton’s 1.33 (1983) and Cliff Lee 1.56 (2009). And the 0.51 WHIP (walking plus number of hits divided by innings; essentially, the number of starting players a bowler allows in each inning) was easily lower than ever before by the bowler during his first four starts in the postseason.

However, the Astros threatened with injury, they started so quickly.

The third round of the first half was produced by sheer aggressiveness. Alvarez was flagged and advanced to third base on a Kyle Tucker flyball to center. The ball was shallow enough to make a risky decision, but Velez midfielder Matt Ferling’s throw was powerful and wide and Alvarez was safe. It paid off in a big way when the next hitter, Yuli Gouriel, hit what should have been the final ground ball to Shortstop. But Edmundo Sosa, the normally confident Philadelphia player, bounced past Reese Hoskins at first base and Alvarez crossed the board, making it 3-0.

Within all of that, the main news of the night for the Astros was the baseman’s second breakout. Altuve, playing in his 88th post-season game, has been uncharacteristically quiet this month. It was 4 vs. 37 (.108) with no house bugs and 1 additional base hit (double).

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Houston winning each of their first seven post-season games despite silence from the advanced hitter is a tribute to the mighty Astros. But they all know based on his past that it’s only a matter of time until the Altuve starts hitting, and when that happens, it makes life easier for all of them.

With a double and two singles in Game 2, Altuve only raised the expectations of his teammates.

“When you see the Altuve with three strokes tonight, it might just explode right now,” McCormick said. “Not to pressure him or anything, but it would be something else if he could explode.”

Third baseman Alex Bregman, who was strapping on a two-round Homer in the fifth inning, threw a vote of confidence in Altuve’s direction as well.

“I feel like he’s the same guy every day,” Bregman said. “He comes to the park excited and ready to compete. He is an incredible leader and gives us real confidence as a team.”

Clearly, the tuff was disappointed. When he raised a high fly ball to center field in the ninth game of Game 1 with two wins and the score tied, 5-5, he hit his racket in the ground and ran most of the way to first base. When the ball fell cleanly into a sort of Bermuda Triangle on the field for a single, it was clear he could have made it to second base had he been running hard. Instead, he stole second place and later hit, as did Velez player Nick Castellanos game play On a Peña fly ball. It was running and diving that put Phillies to victory.

Altuff rarely shows frustration, but he did after that, which Becker took up before the second game.

“I mean, he can’t be happy, but he’s happy with our win,” Becker said. “He may be the strongest man in this building mentally. He probably has had to spend most of his life. So I know any minute now he is one stroke away from a hot streak.”

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That hit came in the first pitch of Game 2, then two more—including hitting one base on a swing at his eye level. That lightened the mood and the tuff was visibly laughing.

“His track record speaks for itself,” Becker said afterwards. “I mean, he threw the racket really well today. It was a good feeling to get him going like he’s been doing all year in the first half. Boy, that was great to see.”

Altove said he went through phases during the extended recession in October. Early on, hit more and studied more video. When that didn’t work, he said, he started hitting “less and less.”

“So I think of late, the less I think, the better,” Altoff said. “So just try to simplify everything.”

Adding to their delight in Game 2 was the last of what became a vintage performance by Valdez. The left-footed player who fired 25 quality in a row running from April 25 through September 18 this year to set an MLB record for one season was mostly untouchable in Game 2.

In fact, Valdes was pretty strong early on in his first six hits, four of which were 0 and 2 curveballs. And in the fourth game, Bryce Harper twice exited the penalty area with two strikes in an apparent attempt to disrupt Valdes’ rhythm.

did not work. Valdez didn’t bother going off the rubber. He simply waited patiently while a crowd of 42,926 booed loudly, then hit Harper on an 80-mph curve.

He turned the boos into cheers, and overnight, the Astros smiled.

Now, the Phillies will return home to the exact same spot they used as a springboard to success in both the Division Series and the NLCS, even in one match each.

“It feels familiar, isn’t it?” said Rhys Hoskins, the first policeman. “Yes, we are disappointed with the loss tonight, but we’ve been here before.”

David Waldstein Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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