World Series scores, takeaways: Astros rebound in Game 2 against Phillies behind big first inning, Framber Valdez – CBS Sports

World Series scores, takeaways: Astros rebound in Game 2 against Phillies behind big first inning, Framber Valdez - CBS Sports

For the second time in the 2022 World Series, the Houston Astros built a 5-0 lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. In contrast to the tight and stunning Game 1, however, the Astros in Saturday night’s Game 2 were able to maintain that lead and win by a score of 5-2. The win evens the best-of-seven series at 1-1 before Sunday’s travel day.

In Game 2, the Astros enjoyed a big first inning and then a fifth-inning two-run home run by Alex Bregman, all off Phillies starter Zack Wheeler. That was more than enough for Houston lefty starter Framber Valdez, who fared very well against a Phillies team that was one of MLB’s most potent offenses against lefties during the regular season. Before Saturday’s win, 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 prevented the Phillies

Lefty Framber Valdez struggled in his pair of World Series starts last fall, surrendering 10 runs on 12 hits over 4 2/3 innings against the Braves. He acquitted himself on Saturday, allowing just one run over 6 1/3 innings.

Valdez surrendered four hits and three walks, but struck out nine batters in 104 pitches. He didn’t allow the Phillies to get a runner in scoring position until the sixth inning, and he later neutralized that threat by striking out a batter and then inducing an inning-ending double play.

Valdez generated a game-high 15 swings and misses, including nine on his curveball. His signature sinker, meanwhile, measured 1.7 mph faster than usual compared to the regular season.

Altuve and the Astros made history in the first

During the regular season, the Astros’ offense led all of MLB with an OPS of .860 in the first inning. (Such things can happen when you have the likes of Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez coming to the plate in the opening frame consistently.) In the first inning of Game 2, they lived up to that advanced billing and then some. . In fact, they made some 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 straight extra-base hits and the only one to do so in the World Series. Specifically, the Astros in the first inning on Saturday night ripped three doubles in a span of four pitches from fellow Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler, whose night will be examined in more depth below. Altuve drew a first-pitch sinker from Wheeler for a double, and then Jeremy Peña did the same to a curveball. Alvarez fouled off a high fastball and then doubled off a slider that was in almost the same spot.

Altuve’s hitting was especially encouraging for him and Houston, as he uncharacteristically entered Game 2 just 4 for 37 during those playoffs. Later in Game 2, Altuve added a pair of singles for his first three-hit game since the final game of the regular season against … the Phillies. You knew Altuve wasn’t going to stay down for long.

All that work done by the top of the Houston lineup set the desired tone, as it gave them an 80 percent chance to win Game 2 entering the second inning.

Wheeler struggles on long rest

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

Wheeler struggled out of the gate, surrendering three extra-base 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 off the game. He would later surrender another extra-base hit, a two-run home run to Alex Bregman that gave the Astros a 5-0 lead. In doing so, he notched the 13th time in his career he has given up at least four extra-base hits..

Wheeler ended his night with a line that saw him surrender four earned runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out three and threw 41 strikes on 69 pitches. It is notable that his speed appeared to be compromised early on. Both his sinker and his four-seamer registered slightly below their season averages for those pitches, though the disparity decreased during his start. Additionally, his slider and curveball actually exceeded their regular season velocities, according to Statcast.

The Phillies can only hope that Wheeler can perform as his usual self if and when he is called upon later in this series.

Bregman makes history with a home run

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

Entering the night, Bregman was tied with Gil McDougald at five apiece. McDougald appeared in 53 World Series games as a member of the New York Americans 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, which essentially makes it a best of five series with the Phillies set to sweep the next three contests. It’s hard to call Game 2 a must-win for a team regardless of circumstances, but it was something close to that for the Astros. Consider, for example, the alternative outcome. If the Astros lost Game 2 and were down 0-2 and went on the road, then they would only have a 16.9 percent chance of winning the series, at least based on historical best-of-seven series results in MLB. Instead, they basically made the series a coin toss, and maybe a little more favorable than that considering the Astros were the better team during the regular season. Maybe the Astros didn’t to have to win Game 2, but they badly needed to.

What follows

Sunday will serve as a travel day for the squads as the series moves to Philadelphia. Game 3 will take place on Monday night. 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.

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