Game 5: Making the Most of the Moment
Heck yeah, that was fun! Obviously, we’ll go back in a minute and take a look at the great ninth-inning catch and talk a little bit about Justin Verlander finally winning a World Series game and Dusty being on the brink of winning it all, but first I want to show you a few screenshots.
OK, that’s the final at-bat of the game by Philadelphia’s Nick Castellanos. I want you to look for a minute at that red No. 2 in the middle of the strike zone. That was an 89-mph slider that looked like it came out of a hitter’s dream. OK, we’ll come back to that in a minute. Here’s another:
That’s Rhys Hoskins at-bat in the second inning. Again, look at that No. 2 — that was an 89-mph slider that seemed to be suitable for framing. Let’s try another one:
That’s from Kyle Schwarber’s at-bat in the sixth. That No. 2 is — you guessed it — a Paul Lynde 89-mph slider, and I would explain that reference but it would ruin it for the four people reading this who get it. I’m going to show you one more:
That’s Hoskins again, this time in the ninth inning. No. 1 is an 88-mph slider — NOT 89-mph this time — that was so perfectly centered in the strike zone, it might as well have been a Justin Tucker field goal.
I’m guessing I don’t need to explain, but I will anyway: The Phillies have only themselves to blame for Thursday’s loss. One of the themes of this playoffs, obviously, has been how good the Astros’ pitching is, particularly that bullpen. Heck, Houston no-hit the Phillies one night earlier, And this theme is right: The Astros’ pitching staff is one of the best ever to be assembled.
But that pitching staff was NOT at its best on Thursday night. Starting with Justin Verlander and continuing through, they threw a whole lot of meatballs. And the Phillies just missed them. Sometimes, yes, great pitching beats you. But sometimes, it has to be said, you beat yourself.
Castellanos fouled off the juicy No. 2 pitch at the top of the screen. That’s when he represented the winning run.
Rhys Hoskins fouled off his own juicy No. 2 pitch. That was in the second inning with the bases loaded and a chance to put Justin Verlander to bed early.
Kyle Schwarber hit his dream pitch hard in the sixth inning — 103-mph exit velocity — but he hit it on the ground and right to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who was waiting in the outfield grass. That was with runners on first and second.
And Hoskins leading off the ninth inning, yes, fouled off that middle-middle first pitch.
Hitting a baseball is a hard thing, we all know that. We all know it’s often called the most difficult thing to do in sports. Batters are not going to square up mistake pitches every time, or anything close to every time. But come playoff time, come the biggest stage and biggest game, you either capitalize on those pitches or you lose, it’s really that simple.
I’m not saying the Astros didn’t miss their own share of middle-middle pitches, of course they did. But …
You see that oh-so-succulent No. 6 pitch? That’s a dangling curveball. And Jeremy Peña hit that one out. And that gave the Astros a lead they never gave back.
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