J.T. Realmuto's solo home run in the top of the 10th capped one of the greatest comebacks in World Series history as the Philadelphia Phillies stunned the Houston Astros 6-5 in 10 iynnings in Game 1 of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park.
"Just ecstatic to put a good swing on that pitch, be able to give our team the lead", the Phillies catcher said. "We did such a good job fighting back there."
Philadelphia became the sixth team in the history of the Fall Classic to overcome a five-run deficit. Coincidentally, Dusty Baker, the Houston manager, was on the losing end of the last such occurrence when San Francisco coughed up a 5-0 lead in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.
Phillies stage incredible rally, top Astros in World Series opener
Astros starter Justin Verlander dominated the National League champions in the early going as he was perfect through three innings, but Philadelphia scored three runs in the third and two more in the fourth to tie the game.
"I think the second time [through] you've seen it once", said Phillies manager Rob Thomson. "So there's some familiarity there. So I think that's why we had some success off him the second time."
Realmuto tied things up with a two-run double in the top of the fifth and Thomson managed the rest of the game with an extra sense of urgency, starting with an early call for Jose Alvarado out of the bullpen.
"I think once we scored the three you were kind of feeling it", he said. "Like, we got back in this thing, now the momentum's changed. And that's really why I went to Alvarado in the fifth inning, which I haven't done all year, because I thought that the momentum changed there. [It] was so important to keep that momentum, get through those guys, and we'll figure out the rest later."
His faith in the bullpen was rewarded as Phillies relievers threw 5 2/3 shutout innings with projected Game 3 starter Ranger Suarez used and Thomson explained his decision to use the lefty.
"So what went into it was, today's a side [bullpen] day for Game 3, so we thought, OK, we've got that one pocket, [Yordan] Alvarez to Tucker, that's a pretty big pocket, and thought, we'll put him in that situation if it comes up. If not, that's fine. And it came up."
Suarez threw just 11 pitches and Thomson said he is still a possibility to start on Monday. He was able to get Philadelphia to the late innings with Seranthony Dominguez getting five outs to send the game into extra innings.
Houston threatened in the bottom of the ninth as Jose Altuve singled and stole second. Jeremy Pena blooped a ball into right field that looked like it might drop, but Nick Castellanos made a game-saving sliding catch.
Castellanos took a few steps in after Altuve reached second, which proved to be the difference in the play and the game.
"I just thought he had a better chance of trying to bloop something in there than torching something over my head", Castellanos said. "So that was kind of my thought process there, just thought of it on the fly."
That allowed Realmuto to play hero, sending a 3-2 fastball from Luis Garcia into the right-field stands.
"I mean whiffle ball games in the backyard, the whole 3-2, bases loaded, two-out situation", he said. "I probably had 7,000 at-bats in that situation growing up."
Realmuto is the first catcher with an extra-inning home run in the World Series since Carlton Fisk's walk-off homer in Game 6 of the 1975 series.
The Astros left the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the 10th as David Robertson struck out Tucker and pinch-hitter Aldeyms Diaz grounded out after he was denied first base following a hit by pitch with the umpires ruling he had leaned into the pitch.
Castellanos was asked to describe the mood of the Phillies when they were down 5-0.
"Let's go to work", he said. "We've been there before. I think that's what this team does so well. We know there's no quit really. We really respect all 27 outs and we take that seriously, and we take it personal."
Game 2 look-ahead
Zack Wheeler takes the mound looking to give Philadelphia a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. The righthander has been spectacular in the playoffs, pitching to a 1.79 ERA in four starts.
Houston looks to even the series behind lefty Framber Valdez, who is 2-0 with a 1.48 ERA in two starts this postseason.