In a game that was little more than a playoff warm-up, the Astros dominated potential World Series contender the Phillies in every aspect of the game.
Let’s start with starting pitching.
Justin Verlander virtually wrapped up the Cy Young award with his 18th win of the season against four losses. He pitched five scoreless, hitless innings. Even better, he possibly pitched his best game of the year, striking out ten and walking only one. He threw 51 pinpointed strikes out of 77 pitches. His ERA dropped to .175.
How about the bullpen?
The Astros bullpen continued the no-hitter started by Verlander through eight complete innings until Will Smith allowed three straight singles in the ninth, followed by three straight strikeouts.
And then there was the hitting.
The Astros scored five runs on Phils starter Ranger Suarez before Suarez could retire one batter, thanks to Jeremy Pena’s 22nd homer and Kyle Tucker’s 30th homer. With the homer, Tucker joined the elite 30+ homer, 20+ steals club for the season.
Jose Altuve was 3-3 before leaving the game with two doubles and a single, boosting his BA to an even .300 and his OPS to .920. If his current wRC+ of 164 holds, it will be the highest of his already illustrious career.
The Astros added another run before one out in the second on a Martin Maldonado homer.
Hold up, wait a minute, y'all thought we were finished? pic.twitter.com/d7xdixiDDh— Houston Astros (@astros) October 5, 2022
The Astros scored two more runs in the fifth inning on the strength of Christian Vazquez and Mauricio Dubon RBI singles. The Astros scored off of former Astros fan favorite and World Series ring-holder Chris Devenski.
The Astros piled on for two more runs in the eighth inning on a David Hensley walk, a Yordan Alvarez double, his third of the game, an Alex Bregman RBI single, and a Jake Meyers RBI single, all with no outs against Seranthony Dominguez.
The Astros ended with 17 hits, five doubles, and three home runs.
After Verlander’s departure, the Phillies were forced to face the Young Apprentice, Hunter Brown. Brown continued the no-hitter begun by his Master, going 2.1 innings allowing only a walk with three K’s.
Brown was followed by former Phillie Hector Neris, who got two outs. He handed the ball to Will Smith in the ninth, who pitched just well enough to preserve the combined shutout.
Framber Valdez closes out the season tomorrow at 3:10 CT for the Stros.
This was the Astros 1000th regular season win at Minute Maid Park, home to four World Series.