Alvarez blasts Baker, Astros to World Series title vs Phils

Yordan Alvarez hit a superb go-ahead homer and the Astros clinched their second World Series title in six seasons with a 4-1 win over the Phillies in Game 6.

HOUSTON (AP) — Yordan Alvarez hit a towering homer and the Houston Astros clinched their second World Series title in six seasons and earned Dusty Baker his first crown as manager by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 in Game 6 Saturday Night.

Alvarez blasted a three-run drive in the sixth inning immediately after Phillies starter Zack Wheeler took a 1-0 lead. As Alvarez’s 450-foot drive disappeared, Astros starter Framber Valdez jumped and screamed wildly in the dugout as fans in the crowd of 42,948 went into a frenzy, waving their orange rally towels.

“As I rounded second base, I felt the whole stadium moving,” Alvarez said through a translator.

Baker eventually clinched his first title in his 25th season as manager, the last three since he was hired by the Astros to help the team regain its credibility in the wake of the sign-theft scandal, manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow cost them their jobs and made Houston the most despised team in baseball.

Baker, 73, who previously skippered the World Series twice, is the oldest championship manager in any of North America’s big four sports. It came 20 years after a near miss when he won the title within five outs while leading the San Francisco Giants.

“What’s next? I said if I win one, I want to win two,” Baker said afterwards.

Houston’s coaching and practice teams circled Baker after Nick Castellanos flew out to finish it off, jumping up and down and shouting “Dusty! Dusty! Dusty!” in the dugout before joining the players on the field.

Astros rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña was the World Series MVP after scoring another key hit, a single to set up Alvarez’s drive.

The 25-year-old star, who was born in the Dominican Republic, also won a Gold Glove award and AL Championship Series MVP – Peña is the first hitter to win those three awards in his career and he’s got it all first season, according to OptaSTATS .

Alvarez’s homer put out the batter’s eye at center, the backdrop that stretches 40 feet across the field. It was the first time the Cuban slugger made a connection since the opening two games this postseason.

“This time I tried to stay calm a bit and pick a good pitch to swing,” he said. “And I did.”

Christian Vázquez followed up with an RBI single later in the inning to make it 4-1.

Valdez earned his second win of the series. He had been in the dugout just minutes after throwing his 93rd and final pitch while scoring nine over six innings.

But the left-hander had gone off the mound 1-0 with the wildcard Phillies when Kyle Schwarber’s solo homer led the sixth.

Schwarber, hitting his third homer in the last four games, circled the bases and waved his empty hand raised in the same motion as the fans waved their towels.

“Obviously, they threw a punch, and we did what we’ve been doing all year: we came right back and threw a haymaker,” said Houston ace Justin Verlander, the likely AL Cy Young winner, of the finally entering the World Series in his ninth career and getting his first win in Game 5.

But by the time Schwarber hit in the eighth, the NL home run leader was down to Bunting, trying to get a hit to shake up a dormant Phillies offense. His bunt went rotten with two strikes, resulting in a strikeout.

In the sixth game, Houston got two runners on base against Wheeler for the first time in the game when Martín Maldonado was hit by a pitch, Jose Altuve had landed in a forceout and Peña was a single.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson went to left-hander Jose Alvarado for a fourth straight game to take on the left bat — Alvarez had popped out twice and was hit by a pitch the first three times.

“I thought Wheels still had really good stuff. It wasn’t about that. I just thought the matchup was better back then with Alvarado on Alvarez,” Thomson said.

And Alvarado had only allowed three left-handed homers in his six big league seasons, up until his 2-1 pitch when Alvarez smashed the 99-mile sinker.

“It’s kind of a dirty inning and I thought, I mean, when I went into the series, it was always kind of Alvarado vs. Alvarez,” Thomson said. “It was the sixth inning and I felt like the bullpen boys normal back end could come through.”

Alvarez hadn’t homed since Game 2 of the AL Division Series against Seattle, when his two-run shot in the sixth inning made them stay. That came after his game-ending three-run shot in Game 1 for an 8-7 win.

Houston won a best 106 games in the American League and reached its fourth World Series in a span of six straight seasons in the AL Championship Series. The Astros made their only other World Series appearance while still in the National League in 2005, defeated in four games by the Chicago White Sox.

This was their third ALCS and second straight World Series since former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers revealed the team had a camera after the 2019 season, when he had left Houston for two years since being part of their 2017 championship in midfield steal signs and signal hitters which pitches to expect them in by hitting a garbage can.

Philadelphia was 22-29 when Joe Girardi was fired in early June and replaced by bench coach Thomson, the 59-year-old baseball lifer who got his first chance as a big league manager – he was with Girardi in the big league for 10 seasons of the Yankees, and was part of their final World Series and titles in 2009.

The Phillies finished the regular season 65-46 under Thomson, their 87 wins good for sixth and last place in the NL playoffs en route to their first World Series since 2009.

Valdez was the only left-hander, along with Sandy Koufax, to hit five straight batters in a World Series game in 1963. He fanned the side in the third, then swung Bryce Harper and missed a 97-mile sinker to start the fourth ahead of Castellano’s 10-pitch-at-bat, which ended with him taking a 96-mile pitch at the Inside corner took – and clearly disagreed with home plate umpire Lance Barksdale.

When Wheeler was on the mound in between, he broke at least three Houston bats on the bottom of the third and had to make a move while a shattered bat flew over his head and around him. The barrel of Chas McCormick’s bat landed just short of second base and then slid all the way to the outfield grass.

After Trey Mancini joined midseason and scored his first postseason hit, a pitch after having to change bats, McCormick’s second godfather-look bat shattered on the handle of a 97-mile sinker, with the run eventually short landed on second base and then slid to the edge of the outfield grass. Wheeler made the play and threw to second baseman Jean Segura for power, with the bat still moving between him and Mancini, who was running toward base.

Wheeler gave up three doubles and two runs in his first four pitches in losing Game 2. His first four pitches a week later resulted in a strikeout from Altuve, and the right-hander hit a career-best that required just seven pitches to get out of the first inning.

Wheeler finished with 70 pitches and allowed two three-hit runs over 5 1/3 innings. He crossed out five and went one.

The Phillies had two runners in the second, about two so-called third strikes, when No. 9 hitter Edmundo Sosa hit a drive to the left. The ball was caught more than 360 feet from the plate by Alvarez in the cutout behind the Crawford boxes. This ball that would have been a home run in at least two MLB parks.


Schwarber met a 2-2 sinker and went on the 96-mile pitch to drag it 395 feet into the right field seats — well off the pole and well over the fence. He hit consecutive fields totaling 756 feet in Game 2, the first to be originally called fair before a Crew Chief’s review determined the 403-foot drive was just a foul and then a flyball on the wall Stuck 353 feet from the plate.

It was the 15th career postseason homer for Schwarber, hitting .412 in the 2016 World Series for the Chicago Cubs when he was activated after being out since early April with a cruciate ligament tear.


Phillies: In less than four months, the Phillies will be back in Texas to begin their 2023 regular season, about 250 miles away for the opener of an interleague series on March 30 against the Texas Rangers.

Astros: Whether or not Baker and/or general manager James Click is back — neither is signed after this season — the World Series champions will play their 2023 season opener at home on March 30 against the Chicago White Sox. Alvarez blasts Baker, Astros to World Series title vs Phils

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