Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña drove in two key runs and veteran ace Justin Verlander gutted through five innings as the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Philles, 3-2, in Game 5 of the World Series on Thursday night. Verlander’s first career World Series win has the Astros on the cusp of this core’s second championship, and first since the sign-stealing scandal.
A night after Cristian Javier and company threw a no-hitter, Verlander … did not. He gave up a home run to Phillies leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber, then had to navigate trouble in the second and third innings. At times it looked like the likely Cy Young winner wouldn’t make it out of the second. But he got out of each sticky situation, and made it through five before handing it off to the Astros bullpen.
A postseason staple, Verlander had been 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts. He got a no decision in Game 1 of this series after coughing up an early five-run lead.
Astros defense saves the day
Dominant throughout the series, the Houston relievers required some spectacular defensive help this time.
With the Phillies mounting a rally in the eighth, he snagged a blistered ground ball off the bat of Kyle Schwarber that would have brought in the tying run from third, and may have even scored a go-ahead run from first. In the ninth inning, center fielder and Philadelphia native Chas McCormick made a dazzling catch leaping into the fence to take extra bases from J.T. Realmuto.
In the end, Dusty Baker got five outs from closer Ryan Pressly.
Altuve, Peña lift Astros lineup
The Astros’ top two hitters carried the offense. Continuing his excellent first playoff run, Peña singled in Houston’s first run in the first, then homered in the fourth. Jose Altuve spent the night setting the table for him. Thoroughly out of his October slump, Altuve laced two hits, walked and scored two runs.
The Astros will return to Houston with a championship on the table. Friday will be an off day — MLB kept it on the schedule after the Game 3 rainout — and Game 6 will be Saturday night. Framber Valdez will go for the title while the Phillies will hand the ball to Zack Wheeler.
How’d we get here? Catch up on everything you need to know for the World Series: