Javier, Astros pitch 2nd no-hitter in World Series history

Cristian Javier and the Houston Astros, who were hammered the night before, desperately needed to figure out how to keep Bryce Harper and the Phillies in the stadium.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cristian Javier and the Houston Astros, who were hammered the night before, desperately needed to figure out how to keep Bryce Harper and the Phillies in the stadium.

How about a no-hitter, would that do?

Javier and Houston’s bullpen combined for the second no-hitter in World Series history, silencing a booming lineup and boisterous fans as the Astros beat the Phillies 5-0 on Wednesday night to level the matchup at two games each.

The only previous no-hitter in the World Series was a perfect game by the New York Yankees’ Don Larsen against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.

Javier and three helpers weren’t perfect, but they came close. They’d also done this before: Javier, the starter in a combined no-hitter against the New York Yankees in June, was pulled this time after 97 pitches with a no-hitter in progress.

Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly each followed with a hitless inning, ensuring this year’s championship will be decided this weekend at Minute Maid Park.

The pitcher quartet posed with catcher Christian Vázquez near the visiting team shortly after the game, each placing a hand on the cue ball for a photo. It’s a picture no one could have imagined 24 hours earlier, as Philadelphia hit a series record in Game 3, tying five home runs in a 7-0 game.

“This is crazy, man,” Vázquez said. “It was something special.”

Javier said his parents predicted Tuesday night he would throw a no-hitter.

“I just came out and stuck to God, trying to be positive and trying to attack the strike zone,” he said via translator. “Thank God I was able to achieve that.”

Game 5 takes place in Philadelphia on Thursday night. Astros ace Justin Verlander will once again be chasing that elusive first World Series win when he takes on Noah Syndergaard.

You can only hope to be as good as Javier.

When the 25-year-old right-hander retired from the Dominican Republic, the only hitmaker for the Philadelphia side to appear on the scoreboard was rocker Bruce Springsteen, pictured surrounded by Phillies fans.

And a few innings later, as fans began to leave Citizens Bank Park, there were indeed boos for postseason star Harper and the Phillies. First Lady Jill Biden, a noted Phillies fan, was among those in the crowd of 45,693 who had little to shout about.

“For me? I mean, a loss is a loss,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson. “That’s kind of how I see it.”

Alex Bregman delivered the hit Houston badly needed, a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning, and that was enough for the Astros.

Completely in charge, Javier hit a nine, walked two and barely allowed any loud contact. He tamed a club that was 6-0 at home this postseason, hitting 17 home runs in the process.

Opponents hit just .170 against Javier during the regular season, the lowest mark in baseball among pitchers with at least 130 innings.

Very quiet on the hill, Javier dug his own quiet spot in the middle of the Phillies’ storm. He backed onto the grass, adjusted his hat, rubbed the ball, took a deep breath, and continued at his own pace.

Next year Javier won’t be able to work like this anymore. Major League Baseball institutes a pitch clock — 15 seconds to throw from empty bases, 20 with someone on base — and Javier pushed those limits many times that night, drawing boos from an action-seeking crowd.

Anyway, it worked at first.

When Javier kept the Phillies scoreless for the first three innings, it was no small feat. No visiting pitcher had done that during the postseason at this jumping ballpark.

In Javier’s last start, he knocked out the Yankees by one hit in 5 1/3 innings in the Bronx during the AL Championship Series.

Javier’s performance came a year after Atlanta’s Ian Anderson was eliminated after five innings without a win against Houston.

The closest the Phillies came to a hit was in the third inning when Kyle Schwarber landed a hard foul from behind first base. Nothing with fair balls.

“It’s cool,” Schwarber said sarcastically. “We’re going to go down in the history books, I think.”

Philadelphia went unhit by five New York Mets pitchers in April, one of several crushing losses that led to manager Joe Girardi’s firing two months later.

“We came back the next day and we won,” said Thomson, then bench coach. “Well, these guys have short memories.”

Maybe it was the team’s switch to orange shirts or the lucky charm Dusty Baker had over lunch at a Philly hoagie joint, but the Astros certainly looked different from the night before when they were shut out with a weak five singles.

Bregman and the Astros, who were hidden for 16 innings, showed their postseason pedigree when they broke out in the fifth against Aaron Nola and put on a batting clinic by not trying to do too much at the plate.

Singles from Chas McCormick, Altuve and Jeremy Peña filled the bases and ended Nola. Relief pitcher José Alvarado hit Yordan Alvarez with his first pitch, forcing him to a run, and then Bregman lined a 100-mile stoker the other way for a two-run double.

Kyle Tucker followed with a sacrifice fly and Yuli Gurriel added an RBI single and it gave a team a 5-0 lead for the fourth straight season.

Houston’s hits also resonated far away.

Chants of “Let’s Go Astros!” erupted while showing the highlights and result at the Toyota Center as the Houston Rockets hosted the Los Angeles Clippers in an NBA game.

And there will be Astro’s cheers at Houston’s NRG Stadium as the Texans take on the Philadelphia Eagles, the NFL’s only undefeated team, in a matchup Thursday night that will be played concurrently with Game 5.

Philly was quiet, however, as fans hoping to see a win turned their hopes to a goal.

NEXT

Astros: Verlander is 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts after failing to hold a five-heat lead in the opener. Verlander is likely to win his third Cy Young Award later this month, but his struggles in the Classic case are puzzling. On the other hand, Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Seaver had lost records in the Classic case despite often serving well, and Don Sutton was hit hard. And fellow Cooperstown players Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina had sub-marks in the postseason.

Phillies: RHP Noah Syndergaard was due to start Game 3 before it was washed out Monday night. He has served three times this postseason — including a three-inning start against Atlanta — and allowed one run in five innings. Its last full-fledged launch was October 1st.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/mlb/javier-astros-pitch-2nd-no-hitter-in-world-series-history/281-47f4859c-e919-4b97-9097-96038e76f6bd Javier, Astros pitch 2nd no-hitter in World Series history

Emma Bowman

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