How would the Houston Astros respond after taking his first loss of the playoffs? Quick, here’s how. They laced three doubles and scored two runs in the first four pitches they saw from Philadelphia Phillies a star Zack Wheelerambushing a dominant starter to take control of World Series Game 2. Behind the stable 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 rush, then added two more Alex Bregman‘s home run in the fifth. Wheeler, who had been spectacular in October until Saturday night, weathered the storm to go five innings.
But unlike Game 1, a Phillies comeback was not forthcoming. Astros manager Dusty Baker once again trusted his starter, but this time it paid off. Valdez grounded the Phillies’ offense, holding them to one run and giving it away to the bullpen.
The closest the Phillies got to threatening the Astros was when Kyle Schwarber smashed two different balls that came within inches of making it a two-run game in the eighth inning. The slugging leadoff man ripped two deep shots off a reliever Rafael Montero – one was initially ruled a home run but called a foul ball after replay, the next one landed in right fielder Kyle Tuckerthe glove a step in front of the wall.
Astros pitching misadventure then put two men on for Bryce Harperbut he popped out to right field to end the inning.
The series will head to surely-reattached Philadelphia for Game 3 on Monday night.
Framber Valdez provides quality, as usual
The 28-year-old lefty, who earlier this season set an MLB record for consecutive quality starts, gave Houston exactly the type of game they needed. Fully in control throughout, Valdez went 6 1/3 innings and allowed just one run. Especially in the early innings, he stifled the Phillies. In all, he gave up just four hits, striking out nine and keeping the ball on the ground. Of the five most hit balls against him, four were grounders and two turned into double plays.
Sometimes overlooked with Verlander looming ahead of him in the Astros rotation, Valdez has been a sensational 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 heats up with 3 hits
Altuve, the Astros’ shortstop, was ice cold at the plate in the playoffs. He entered Game 2 4-for-37 in the postseason. Then, Saturday night, he rattled off three hits and looked more like the threat he usually was.
His ambush of Wheeler in the first inning started the early barrage of the Astros.
He added two singles later, a hopeful sign as Houston looks ahead in the series.
Astrocatcher used an illegal bat
Fear not, but an Astros hitter may have broken the rules. According to a report by Tom Verducci on the Fox broadcast, Astros catcher Martin Maldonado was informed by MLB that the bat he used in Game 1 was illegal. The veteran catcher reportedly used a bat passed down from a retiring legend Albert Pujolsbut Pujols was grandfathered in to using bat specifications no longer allowed.
Maldonado used a different bat in Game 2.
How did we get here? Catch everything you need to know for the World Series: