PHILADELPHIA — In moments when their backs are against the wall, the Houston Astros never cease to falter to their knees, proving to the world and to themselves that they will always find a way to persevere through the toughest and ugliest of adversities. This time, it was historical. History was made at the World Series as Game 4 starter Cristian Javier led the Houston Astros to a combined no-hitter and a 5-0 win against the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
When the Phillies tied the MLB record for most home runs in a World Series game just one night prior, Javier made it known that it was his night to scribe his name into the history books, as the Santo Domingo native used his powerful fastball mechanisms to silence the assertiveness that lied deep within the Phillies lineup.
“We just stayed focused, just came out motivated after yesterday’s loss,” Javier stated after his unforgettable performance. “We had positive energy in the clubhouse. We told ourselves that we would come in today to win. Coming into the ballpark today, we studied the other team, had a lot of adrenaline and stayed positive, and just had a lot of desire to win.”
How did he do it?
The 25-year-old hurler hammered the strike zone — something he has proven throughout the year and promised to upkeep on the mound for Wednesday nights performance — with his four-seam fastballs (72% usage with a max-velocity of 96 mph) and sprinkled the use of his slider to help put to rest a Phillies lineup that went cold 24-hours after making a powerful statement.
“Always [when] he is on the mound, we’re expecting a great fastball and great slider. He was very, very electric tonight with the fastball,” Astros catcher Christan Vázquez said after taking part in history behind the plate. “I think that’s the way he is, and we always expecting that. And I think that’s the best fastball right now in baseball.”
Javier joined one of the World Series’ most memorable pitchers when he etched his name into baseball history. He now joins the only person to throw a perfect game in a World Series, Don Larsen, in preventing a hit through six innings or more in the Fall Classic. To extend his yearly success, Javier has not allowed a run in six-straight starts, dating back to his start on September 14 against the Detroit Tigers.
To add an extra coating of magic to Javier’s night, not only would it be the first World Series start for Javier, but it was the first time that his father watched his son pitch a Major League Baseball game.
“With my parents being here, I just tried to give my best, give my family the best that I could,” Javier said as his family witnessed him make history in the World Series. “It was the best gift that I could have ever given them.”
Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero pitched solo innings before handing the ball to Ryan Pressly to cement the archival moment. Abreu slayed all three batters he faced — J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, and Nick Castellanos — with three swinging strikeouts. Abreu trusted the works of his four-seamer and slider to freeze the top-middle part of the Phillies lineup, while Montero fanned one and got Bryson Scott and Jean Segura to fly out to the greenery of the outfield.
The last time the Astros pitched a combined no-hitter against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium was June 25, 2022. Javier was the one to lead the pack on that historic day for the Astros, going seven innings and striking out 13 before Hector Neris and Pressly held down the fort for the combined no-no. It is the first time in MLB history that a team accounted for two combined no-hitters in the same season.
As the pitching core placed zeros on the scoreboard, the Astros lineup fended off their hitting struggles when they stepped into the batter’s box in the fifth inning against Aaron Nola and immediately threw themselves on base with three straight singles.
It would unleash a barrage of runs, starting with Chas McCormick and extending to the bat of Yuli Gurriel. It was the Astros’ needed push that silenced a vocally intense crowd. After Nola gave up the three-straight singles, Phillies manager Rob Thomson made the decision to go to the bullpen with the pads occupied and no outs and would soon find out how versatile and fundamentally sound the Astros lineup can be when given the opportunity. José Alvarado, who has been dynamite coming out of the Phillies bullpen, came into the game and, on the first pitch, drilled Yordan Álvarez with a 99-mph sinker that gave the Astros a 1-0 lead.
“That’s a tough situation to bring him in,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said after he pointed out Alvarado’s performance seemed off. “But we were just trying to keep the damage to a minimum, I guess. It just kind of got away from us.”
Alex Bregman, who’s playing in his fourth World Series with the Astros, did not succumb to a 0-2 pitch from Alvarado when he hammered a 101-mph sinker to the deep crevices of right field, scoring McCormick and Altuve on a double. However, the bleeding didn’t end there for the 27-year-old lefty, as a sac-fly from the bat of Kyle Tucker and an RBI single from veteran Yuli Gurriel would extend the Astros lead to 5-0 to complete the inning.
With the win Wednesday night and the series tied at two, the Astros officially move the series to Houston with a set Game 6. The Phillies hope to snag one more game at home before traveling to Houston to face the Astros on their home field. Justin Verlander will make his second World Series start of the season, while Noah Syndergaard will make his debut in the Fall Classic on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at 8:03 EST.
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