World Series score takeaway: Astros rebound in Game 2 against Phillies behind big first inning Framber Valdez

For the second time in the 2022 World Series, the Houston Astros took a 5-0 lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. Unlike the tense and breathtaking Game 1, however, the Astros in Game 2 on Saturday night were able to hold onto that lead and win by a score of 5-2. The victory ties the best of seven series at 1-1 heading into Sunday’s travel day.

In Game 2, the Astros took advantage of a big first inning and then a two-run fifth-inning home run from Alex Bregman, all off Phillies starter Zack Wheeler. That was more than enough for Houston left-handed starter Framber Valdez, who performed very well against a Phillies team that was one of MLB’s most potent offenses against left-handers during the regular season. Prior to Saturday’s victory, the Astros had lost seven of the last eight World Series games played at Minute Maid Park.

Now for some takeaways from Game 2.

Valdez blocked the Phillies

Southpaw Framber Valdez struggled in his pair of World Series starts last fall, giving up 10 runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Braves. He justified himself on Saturday, allowing only one run in 6 1/3 innings.

Valdez had four hits and three walks, but struck out nine on 104 pitches. He didn’t allow the Phillies to put a runner in scoring position until the sixth inning, and then neutralized that threat by striking out a batter and then forcing a late-inning double play.

Valdez generated a record 15 swings and misses, including nine on his curveball. His signature lead, meanwhile, hit 1.7 mph faster than usual compared to the regular season.

Altuve and the Astros made history when they first

During the regular season, the Astros’ offense led all of MLB with an .860 first-inning OPS. (That sort of thing can happen when you have the likes of Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez regularly coming to the plate in the opening frame.) In the first inning of Game 2 they honored that advanced billing and then some . In fact, they made a bit of World Series history en route to a three-run inning:

As you can see, the Astros are one of only three teams to open a playoff game with three more consecutive hits and the only one to do so in the World Series. Specifically, the Astros in the first inning Saturday night ripped three doubles on four pitches from Phillies co-ace Zack Wheeler, whose night will be examined in more detail below. Altuve snatched a first pitch lead from Wheeler for a double, then Jeremy Peña did the same on a curve. Alvarez fouled a high fastball, then doubled up a slider that was almost in the same spot.

Altuve’s shot was particularly heartening for him and Houston, as he uncharacteristically only entered Game 2 4 of 37 in this playoff. Later in Game 2, Altuve added a pair of singles for his first three-hit game since the last game of the regular season against…the Phillies. You knew Altuve wouldn’t stay long.

All of that work from the top of the Houston roster set the tone they wanted as it gave them an 80% chance of winning Game 2 going into the second inning.

Wheeler struggles to rest for long

Zack Wheeler had his start pushed back from Game 1 to Game 2 so he could have an extra day off. Unfortunately for the Phillies, it did him no good.

Wheeler struggled out of the gate, allowing three more hits in an inning for the fifth time in his career in the first inning. It was the first time in his career that such an inning led the game. He would later give up another extra hit, a two-run homer from Alex Bregman that gave the Astros a 5-0 lead. In doing so, he marked the 13th time in his career he had given up at least four extra-base hits..

Wheeler ended his night with a line that saw him give up four earned runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out three and threw 41 strikes on 69 pitches. It’s worth noting that his speed seemed to be compromised early on. His sinker and four-seam both registered a little below his seasonal averages for those throws, though the disparity narrowed over his start. Additionally, his slider and curveball actually exceeded their regular-season speeds, according to Statcast.

The Phillies can only hope Wheeler is able to play business as usual if and when he’s called up later in this series.

Bregman makes history with a home run

As mentioned above, Bregman homered a two-run homer in the fifth to give the Astros a 5-0 lead. It was his sixth career World Series home run, setting a new record for most by a third baseman in Fall Classic history.

Going into the night, Bregman had been tied with Gil McDougald at five apiece. McDougald appeared in 53 World Series games as a member of the New York Yankees in the 1950s. Saturday’s contest marked Bregman’s 22nd career World Series game.

The win was huge for Houston

As noted, the best-of-seven series is now tied 1-1, essentially making it a best-of-five series, with the Phillies set to host the next three contests. It’s hard to call Game 2 a must win for any team under any circumstance, but it was something close for the Astros. Consider, for example, the alternative result. If the Astros had lost Game 2 and were down 0-2 and gone on the road, then they would only have a 16.9% chance of winning the series, at least according to MLB’s best seven-series all-time record. Instead, they basically made the series a corner-flip, and maybe a little more favorable than that considering the Astros were the better team during the regular season. Maybe the Astros didn’t. have to win Game 2, but they really needed it.

What happens after

Sunday will serve as a travel day for the teams as the series moves to Philadelphia. Game 3 will take place on Monday evening. The Phillies were expected to go with Ranger Suárez, but will instead turn to Noah Syndergaard after Suárez made a relief appearance in Game 1. The Astros are expected to start Lance McCullers Jr.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *