Justin Verlander has a very tough act to follow.
Not only will he again be seeking his first World Series win Thursday night, he’ll take the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies after four Houston Astros teammates combined on the Fall Classic’s second no-hitter.
“He’s one of the best,” Phillies slugger Bryce Harper said after Houston’s 5-0 victory Wednesday tied the Series at two games apiece. “Just got to go out there and have the best at-bats we can and do what we can to get some runs up there.”
Verlander failed to hold a five-run lead in the opener, a 6-5, 10-inning loss for the Astros that left him 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts. The 39-year-old ace, expected to win his third Cy Young Award in a few weeks, has the highest ERA of any pitcher to throw at least 30 innings in the Fall Classic.
"I’m not going to sit here and dwell too much and be like, 'Oh, I just got hit all over the yard,'" he said. “I think you try to keep a positive mindset and say, ‘Well, had a couple things gone my way, maybe things would have been very different.’ So hopefully things will go my way next time."
Before starter Cristian Javier and three Houston relievers combined to blank the Phillies on Wednesday night, the only no-hitter in the World Series was a perfect game by Don Larsen of the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.
SERIES SCHEDULE (All times ET)
Game 5: Thursday in Philadelphia, 8:03 p.m., FOX
Game 6: Saturday in Houston, 8:03 p.m., FOX
Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday in Houston, 8:03 p.m., FOX
THIS BUD’S FOR YOU. AND YOU. YOU, TOO.
Losing a World Series game on a no-hitter could drive almost any Phillies fan to drink.
It helps when there’s an open bar.
The wife of Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins turned section 104 of Citizens Bank Park into the hop corner when she bought around 100 beers for fans before Game 4.
Jayme Hoskins started putting beers on her tab earlier in the playoffs and got Phillies fans primed for another free round when she tweeted her location at the ballpark.
Wearing a red Phillies blazer with “Hoskins” printed on the back, Jayme had fans chanting her name Wednesday night as she sidled up to the closest bar to right field on the concourse before Game 4.
“If you know anything about baseball and it’s quirks then you know where beers are about to be,” she tweeted.
Rhys Hoskins was on board with his wife playing baseball bartender.
“Whatever it takes right now, really,” he said before Game 4. “She’s having a lot of fun with it. Obviously, the fans are enjoying it, too.”
Good news for Phillies fans suffering from a no-hitter hangover.
She’ll be back for Game 5.
YOU DOUBLE DIPPED!
Philly and Houston sports fans have double the reason for sports excitement on Thursday. The undefeated Eagles play the Texans and the Phillies and Astros are set for Game 5.
Thanks to a Game 3 rainout, both leagues have games on the same night and the same time, causing some headaches — though it’s more sports heaven in Philly — for fans who would rather not divide their fandom.
The Texans know their audience is thirsty for baseball and plan to rotate the Astros score on the side panels of the video boards throughout the game. More than 50% of the televisions around the stadium that would normally show other NFL games will instead show Game 5.
Normally, the team features an NFL scoreboard during the games, but on Thursday, the Texans will drop in on the big screen to provide the World Series score and big-play updates.
PHILLY ‘PEN FINALLY LEAKS
After a sturdy start to this World Series, the Phillies’ bullpen finally cracked in Game 4.
José Alvarado replaced starter Aaron Nola with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth inning. The hard-throwing lefty drilled Yordan Alvarez with his first pitch, forcing in the initial run of the game. Alex Bregman laced a two-run double on an 0-2 delivery, Kyle Tucker lofted a sacrifice fly and Yuli Gurriel made it 5-0 with an RBI single past a drawn-in infield.
“That’s a tough situation to bring him in, but we were just trying to keep the damage to a minimum, I guess,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “It just kind of got away from us.”
Philadelphia relievers had fired 12 2/3 shutout innings to begin the World Series, the longest scoreless streak for a bullpen in a Fall Classic since Toronto in 1992.
Alvarado finished the fifth, throwing 22 pitches, and the next four relievers out of Philadelphia’s bullpen each tossed a scoreless inning.
With right-hander Noah Syndergaard scheduled to start Game 5 on Thursday night, the Phillies will likely need another strong effort from the ’pen. Syndergaard has pitched three times this postseason, totaling just five innings. His most recent full-fledged start was Oct. 1.
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