Thursday, December 1 2022
Prior to his life-saving catch, Nick Castellanos appeared in the Phillies’ first round of the World Series.

Troy Taormina / USA TODAY Sports

Man, oh man, that was fun. At its best, the World Series is the perfect demonstration of what makes our game special, and last night’s Game 1 had it all. The Phillies pulled off the rare World Series comeback of five or more races to beat the Astros6–5, in 10 innings.

Philadelphia wide receiver JT Realmuto was the star of the game. He lifted a two-run brace off the wall into left center field that tied the game in the fifth and doubled up a game-winning solo shot from the opposite field leading into the 10th. He also made one of the most magnificent throws I’ve ever seen from a catcher when he tried to catch Jose Altuve stealing second base in the bottom of the ninth. Altuve was declared safe on the court, and upon review the decision stood, although this was likely due to the videos not having enough evidence to say for certain that the call was incorrect. I thought Altuve was out, but it was hard to tell. Either way, Realmuto sent a hopper to second baseman Jean Segura, who caught the ball on Altuve’s leg. The throw couldn’t have been better, and it was all the more impressive because of Altuve’s big jump.

The stolen base set up the defensive highlight of the night. With the winning run to second, Jeremy Peña sent a fly ball into shallow right field. Nick Castellanos, a defensive back who plays right field only because Bryce Harper can’t throw, charged in and landed a game-saving sliding catch. Moments earlier, left fielder Kyle Schwarber signaled Castellanos and center fielder Brandon Marsh to move in because they were playing too deep. Schwarber’s positioning on Castellanos is the only reason the right fielder reached pop.

Castellanos, one of MLB’s worst defensive outfielders, made his second slippery catch in the ninth inning of the playoffs, with his first coming in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Thomas Shea / USA TODAY Sports

The magnificent play will surely overshadow Castellanos’ other key contribution to the win, his RBI single with two outs in the fourth, although that shot was the turning point of the game.

Castellanos stepped in with his team down to five. Astros ace Justin Verlander, on his first jam of the night, took an early lead in the count, 0-2, with two four seams that Castellanos committed. The Philadelphia right fielder has swung more frequently than any player in baseball this season (57%) and had the highest chase rate in the National League (43.6%), according to FanGraphs. So Verlander broke a nasty slider that fell under the area. Castellanos started to swing – he clearly wanted to – and kind of resisted before his barrel passed the point of no return. The next step was another slider under the area. This time Castellanos swung and snagged it a left to drive in the Phillies’ first inning. Verlander crumbled from there, giving up a two-run brace to Alec Bohm, and a set later Realmuto’s brace.

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1. OPENING

“All week, Justin Verlander has insisted that he cares more about winning Game 1 of the World Series than erasing his chess legacy in those times. On Friday, he didn’t neither.

That’s how Stephanie Apstein begins her column last night on Verlander, who squandered a 5-0 lead to go winless in his eight career World Series starts.

Justin Verlander collapses yet again in Stephanie Apstein’s World Series

The Astros ace couldn’t erase his legacy of failures in the Fall Classic, despite taking a five-point lead against the Phillies in Game 1.

2. ICYMI

Catch up with the other two post-game stories from last night.

JT Realmuto game has the Phillies set to shock the world by Tom Verducci

The catcher stunned the Astros with his home run in Game 1 to help Philadelphia gain the upper hand in the World Series.

Bold bullpen moves power the Phillies by Emma Baccellieri

Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson made a series of aggressive decisions that led to the team’s epic victory in Game 1.

And if you didn’t have the chance to read yesterday’s newsletter, here it is!

The Phillies are Matt Martell’s anti-astros

Philly made the World Series after failing to replicate Houston’s tank-and-rebuild

3. PLEASE NOTE by Matt Martell

Here is yesterday’s trivial question, along with the two answers:

Question: Five players this season have hit at least 30 home runs and stolen 10 or more bases. The only one whose team didn’t make the playoffs is, you guessed it, Shohei Ohtani. Two of the other four are Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts, as you’d expect. The other two are both playing in this World Series. Can you name them?

Answer: Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker (30 home runs, 25 stolen bases) and Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber (46 home runs, 10 stolen bases)

Tucker and Shohei Ohtani are the only two players with at least 30 homers and 10 or more stolen bases in each of the past two seasons.

David J. Phillip/AP

Last night’s game was therefore quite appropriate. Tucker hit a home run in each of his first two plate appearances, a solo shot leading in the second and a three-run outburst in the third. Schwarber, for his part, stole the first sack of the series when he stole the second in the seventh inning. It was his third stolen base of the playoffs, the most for any playoff player. Not bad for a guy who had only 12 career steals at the start of the regular season.

4. W2W4 by Matt Martell

The promise of a Game 1 pitching duel between Verlander and Aaron Nola didn’t quite pan out, but we have another exciting game lined up tonight.

On the Astros’ mound is southpaw Framber Valdez, who this season set an MLB single-season record with 25 consecutive quality starts. In his last outing, against the Yankees in the ALCS, Valdez dazzled for seven innings, allowing two runs (none won) in a 3-2 win at Houston. Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler gets the ball back, looking to provide some length after manager Rob Thomson used five relief pitchers last night, including Ranger Suárez, their likely Game 3 starter.

5. CLOSEST to Matt Martell

This series is ripe with comparisons to the 2019 World Series, when the Nationals upset the Astros in seven games. Like the Phillies last night, Washington also won Game 1 of this series, in Houston, and used its Game 3 starter, Patrick Corbin, out of the bullpen. The road team won every game in the ’19 World Series. If this one follows the same trajectory, at least in the first six games, we are in for a treat.

That’s all for us today. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow. In the meantime, share this newsletter with your friends and family, and tell them to sign up at SI.com/newsletters. If you have any questions or comments, email us at [email protected]

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