The Houston Astros are World Series champions for 2022. The Astros defeated the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night in Game 6, 4-1, and in doing so took the series by a count of four games to two. For Houston, Framber Valdez was near flawless until allowing a sixth-inning solo homer to Kyle Schwarber that gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. The deficit, however, was short-lived. In the home half of the sixth, Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez authored a booming three-run home run off Phillies reliever José Alvarado that gave Houston a 3-1 lead that the lockdown bullpen would not relinquish.
In addition to Valdez’s and Alvarez’s heroics, rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña notched a pair of hits and was on base for the Alvarez homer. This marks the second World Series title for the Astros franchise. The other came in 2017, a season the Astros were later found to have illegally stole signs.
Now for some takeaways from the clincher in Houston.
Yordan Alvarez dropped a bomb on Philly’s hopes
With two on and one out, Phillies manager Rob Thomson lifted his ace Zack Wheeler in favor of power lefty Jose Alvarado, who’s emerged as one of the Phils’ go-to, high-leverage relievers. Alvarado enjoyed the platoon advantage against the first batter he faced, Yordan Alvarez, but as you’re about to see it didn’t much matter:
Yes, that’s 450 feet of game-changing home run to center field. Suffice it to say, that’s a clutch blast, and it’s not the first time for Alvarez this postseason:
When Alvarez stepped to the plate in the sixth, the game was basically a 50-50 coin flips. After he touched the plate following his three-run blast, the Astros had an 84.3 percent chance of winning the game and thus the World Series. That’s precisely what happened.
Schwarber interrupted a pitcher’s duel and gave the Phillies hope
Game 6 starters Framber Valdez and Zack Wheeler going into the sixth had been matching one another out for out, and it looked, felt, and smelled like one of those games that would be handed over the bullpens as a scoreless tie. Schwarber, however, wasn’t in an accommodating mood in the top of the sixth, as Valdez dipped into the Philly lineup for the third time. With a 2-2 count, Valdez confronted Schwarber with a low-and-inside sinker, and Schwarber turned it around for the first run of the game:
That one left the bat at 107.3 mph and traveled 395 feet. Schwarber’s was the first home run allowed by Valdez at Minute Maid Park since July 3, and it’s just the second time a lefty has homered off him all year.
That was Schwarber’s third home run of this World Series and sixth home run of 2022 postseason. Speaking of which, here’s a fresh bit of Series history:
Most important of all, though, it gave the Phillies their first lead since Game 3. Unfortunately for Philly, it would not last.
Houston pitching was elite over the final games of the series
Pitching depth was the Astros’ playoff calling card, and they largely played to type this October and November. That depth yielded dominance over the final three games of this series, as Houston pitching limited the Phillies to a total of three runs in Games 4, 5, and 6 combined (two of those runs came on Schwarber solo homers). Game 4, of course, occasioned a combined no-hitter for the Astros.
The Astros joined the next tier of franchises
The win in game 6 means that the Astros have become the 21st MLB franchise to win multiple World Series titles. (The Phillies, coincidentally, also have two). Of course, the Astros haven’t been around all that long in MLB franchise terms. Their first season came in 1962. Among expansion franchises – i.e., those founded in that first round of expansion in 1962 or later – no team has more than two titles. The Astros now join the Mets, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Royals as expansion teams to win multiple titles.
Baker joined elite company and probably secured a spot in the Hall
The Astros’ skipper becomes just the third Black manager in MLB history to win the World Series, as he joins Cito Gaston of the Blue Jays (1992 and 1993) and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers (2020).
Baker’s been a steady winning presence in the dugout for a quarter century or so. He’s got 2,093 wins to his credit, and he’s led five different clubs to division titles and postseason berths. Baker should probably already have been on his way to Cooperstown one day (and this is to say nothing of his darn good career as a player), and now that he’s won a World Series he’s surely bound for a plaque. Baker came within five outs of winning a World Series with the Giants in 2002. Who would’ve guessed that 20 years later he’d finish the job?