|5:03 PM PT6:03 PM MT7:03 PM CT8:03 PM ET20:03 ET0:03 GMT8:03 5:03 PM MST7:03 PM EST7:33 PM VEN4:03 UAE (+1)6:03 PM CT, November 5, 2022
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas Attendance: 42,958
One win away, Astros lean on Framber Valdez to deliver vs. Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies at Houston Astros
- Since 1982, teams leading three-games-to-two in a World Series have won the series only 54.5 percent of the time (12-10). Before 1982, teams leading 3-2 in a best-of-seven World Series went on to win the series in 75.0 percent of the instances (33-11).
- Eight teams have won a best-of-seven World Series by winning Game 6 and Game 7 on the road but it's happened only twice since 1980. The Cubs did that at Cleveland in 2016 and the Nationals at Houston in 2019. The road team won all seven games in the 2019 World Series.
- Astros pitchers have recorded 59 strikeouts in the first five games of the 2022 World Series, with at least 11 in each game. Houston is the first team to have its pitchers reach double-figures in strikeouts (10+) in each of five consecutive games in one World Series. Before this year, no team's pitchers had more than two straight games with 11+ Ks in one World Series.
- In MLB postseason history, only two pitchers have entered a game with a one-run lead and at least two runners on base, needing five or more outs to win and having pitched the day before, and preserved that one-run lead until the end of the game: Ryan Pressly in Game 5 of this series and Hall-of-Famer Pete Alexander in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series.Alexander, who had a complete-game win in Game 6, pitched the final 2.1 innings in Game 7. The last out of that game came when Babe Ruth was caught stealing in the ninth inning.
- Jeremy Pena is the eighth rookie with at least one hit in each of the first five games of a World Series. The others are Pepper Martin (1931), Johnny Sturm (1941), Gil McDougald (1951), Tom Tresh (1962), Jay Payton (2000), Mitch Moreland (2010) and Buster Posey (2010). No rookie has done that in each of the first six games of a World Series.
- Jeremy Pena had the game-winning RBI in Game 2 (with a first-inning double) and Game 5 (leadoff homer in the fourth inning). He's the fourth rookie with two game-winning RBIs in one series, following Gil McDougald (1951), Hal Morris (1990) and Hideki Matsui (2003).
- J.T. Realmuto was 0-for-13 over the last three games with three strikeouts in each game. He's the first player ever to strike out at least three times in each of three consecutive World Series games. Realmuto's nine strikeouts over three games tie a World Series record set by Ryan Howard in 2009 and matched by Cody Bellinger in 2017.
- Zack Wheeler walked three and struck out three in the five innings he pitched in Game 2. It was only the second time in Wheeler's 31 games this year (regular season and postseason) that he did not have more strikeouts than walks (also April 17 at Miami: 3.0 IP, 3 BB, 3 SO). In fact, Wheeler had at least two more strikeouts than walks in each of his 29 other games.
- Zack Wheeler will be making his sixth postseason start of 2022 tonight, tying a major-league record done seven times before, first by Curt Schilling in 2001 and most recently by Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell in 2020. And with this start in Houston, Wheeler will become the first MLB pitcher make five road starts in one postseason.
- Framber Valdez is 10-2 with a 2.55 ERA in his 14 starts since August 1 (11 regular-season and three postseason), with 101 strikeouts and only five home runs allowed in 91.2 innings. The Astros won 12 of those 14 games, including each of his three postseason starts.
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HOUSTON -- Much has been made of Houston Astros left-hander Framber Valdez maximizing his abundant talent by utilizing and applying several mental processes to sharpen his focus.
The results for Valdez have been irrefutable, and Houston will look for Valdez (2-0, 1.42 ERA this postseason) to deliver one more quality start on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series, with the Astros leading the best-of-seven series 3-2 and on the brink of securing their second championship in five years.
Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler (1-2, 2.67 ERA) will oppose Valdez.
"Yeah, I think I'm just going to try to continue doing what I've been doing all season," Valdez said. "Just try and attack hitters early, try to breathe, try to stay calm, try to meditate.
"It's something that's really exciting. I think it's something that really adds a lot to your career, and I'm really excited for this opportunity."
Excitement isn't in short supply. After Cristian Javier pitched brilliantly and combined with three relievers for a no-hitter in Game 4, Justin Verlander produced an inspired effort in Game 5, grinding his way through five innings of one-run ball despite steady traffic on the bases against the backdrop of a frenzied crowd. If Valdez needs inspiration, his short-term memory would suffice.
"Yeah, definitely helps a lot," Valdez said. "It helps for me to stay positive. Obviously, our guys did an amazing job. We won two games (in Philadelphia) as well. I think that does help set the tone.
"Obviously, we're going back home just needing to win one game. And hopefully with God on our side, we'll be able to win that game."
The Phillies' powerful lineup has been stifled by the Astros' pitching ever since Philadelphia bashed five home runs in Game 3 to slug its way to a 2-1 series lead. The Phillies mustered just two at-bats with runners in scoring position while being no-hit in Game 4, and they finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position in Game 5, that hit coming from Jean Segura in the eighth inning.
The Phillies are slashing .174/.272/.342 in the series, and while their power remains a looming threat, their inability to mount and sustain rallies is part of the reason why they sit one game from elimination. At this juncture, the Phillies are hopeful that familiarity with Valdez will pay dividends as Game 6 will mark the third time they've faced him since Oct. 5.
Before carrying a shutout into the seventh inning and posting nine strikeouts in Game 2, Valdez recorded 10 strikeouts and limited the Phillies to two hits over five scoreless innings in the regular-season finale last month.
"I think that goes for everybody," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said of the benefit of facing a pitcher multiple times. "I think the more you see a pitcher, the more you see the shape of his pitches and see it up close and how the fastball sinks or rides, I think you have a better chance.
"I thought we had better at-bats in the World Series start than we did in the regular-season start. So hopefully that continues."
What the Phillies can't afford to have continue is the Astros' sudden momentum. Houston appeared on the ropes when the Phillies fashioned a blowout victory in Game 3, only to rebound behind Javier and the combined no-hitter. Now the onus falls on Wheeler to make an old baseball axiom manifest, his primary purpose to keep the Phillies' title hopes alive.
"I think (momentum) resets day to day," said Wheeler, whom the Astros tagged for five runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks in five innings in Game 2. "I think everybody probably feels -- has their own beliefs, I guess they could say. But I think it resets, especially with a starting pitcher.
"From my standpoint, I'm just going out there and pitching my game and starting new."
--By MK Bower, Field Level Media
Updated November 4, 2022