How the Houston Astros respond after suffering their first playoff loss? Quick, that’s how it is. They hit three doubles and scored two runs in the first four pitches they saw against Philadelphia Phillies star Zack Wheelerambushing a dominant starter to take control of Game 2 of the World Series. Framber Valdezthe Astros held on from there, winning 5-2 to even the series at 1-1.
The Astros ended up scoring three in the first-inning run, then added two more on Alex Bregman‘s homer in the fifth. Wheeler, who had been spectacular in October through Saturday night, weathered the storm to go five innings.
But unlike Game 1, a Phillies comeback didn’t happen. Astros manager Dusty Baker trusted his starter again, but this time it paid off. Valdez grounded the Phillies’ offense, holding them to just one point and putting him back in the bullpen.
The moment the Phillies came close to threatening the Astros was Kyle Schwarber smashed two different balls inches away from making it a two-run game in the eighth inning. The leading man who hit snatched two deep shots from the reliever Raphael Montero – one was originally ruled a home run but called a foul after replay, the next landed in the right fielder Kyle Tucker‘s glove a step in front of the wall.
An Astros mishap in the field then put two men to Bryce Harperbut he went out to right field to end the inning.
The series heads to surely revived Philadelphia for Game 3 on Monday night.
Framber Valdez delivers quality as usual
The 28-year-old southpaw, who earlier this season set an MLB record for consecutive quality starts, gave Houston exactly the type of game it needed. Perfectly in control throughout, Valdez went 6 1/3 innings and allowed just one run. Especially in the early innings, he stifled the Phillies. In total, he allowed only four hits, struck out nine and kept the ball on the ground. Of the five hardest hit balls against him, four were on the ground and two turned into a double play.
Sometimes overlooked with Verlander ahead of him in the Astros rotation, Valdez has been a spectacular starter. A gem of the Astros development system, only 10 qualified starters have a better ERA than him over the past two seasons.
Jose Altuve warms up with 3 hits
Altuve, the Astros’ little kingpin, was icy at home plate in the playoffs. He entered the game 2 4 for 37 in the playoffs. Then, Saturday night, he had three hits and looked more like the threat he always was.
His ambush on Wheeler in the first inning sparked the Astros’ first barrage.
He added two singles later, an encouraging sign as Houston looks forward to the series.
Astros catcher was using an illegal bat
Don’t panic, but an Astros batter may have broken the rules. According to a report by Tom Verducci on the Fox show, Astros catcher Martin Maldonado has been told by MLB that the bat he used in Game 1 was illegal. The veteran catcher reportedly used a bat passed down from the retired legend Albert Pujolbut Pujols had been grandfathered to use bat specs that were no longer permitted.
Maldonado used a different bat in Game 2.
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