HOUSTON — The Philadelphia Phillies were dead Friday night.
They were being taunted and mocked.
And then left Minute Maid Park and the Houston Astros absolutely stunned.
The Phillies, winning 6-5 in 10 innings on catcher J.T. Realmuto’s homer, became only the sixth team in World Series history to overcome a five-run deficit and win.
The last time?
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It was back in 2002 when the San Francisco Giants, led by manager Dusty Baker, were eight outs away from winning the World Series over the then-Anaheim Angels.
They led 5-0 in the seventh inning of that game and lost, 6-5. The Giants never recovered, losing Game 7.
It was the closest Baker would come to winning a World Series title as manager.
Now, here he was, enduring another heartbreaking loss.
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Of the previous five times a team overcame a five-run deficit or more, four went onto win the World Series.
“We’re down five, we faced adversity, and we did what we always do,” Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos said after the game. “Just found a way to pass the baton and keep something going.”
Really, this was a bizarre game from the outset.
One minute, everyone is wondering if Astros future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander is going to go Don Larsen on us and pitch a a perfect game in the World Series.
The next, Verlander is crumbling on the mound, haunted by those World Series ghosts.
One minute, Phillies ace Aaron Nola is getting pummeled by the Astros’ hitters, with Kyle Tucker impersonating Reggie Jackson, hitting two homers with four RBI his first two at-bats.
The next, Nola is mowing down six consecutive Astros like he’s Steve Carlton.
Ultimately Game 1 had a crazy ending, with Castellanos saving the game with a sliding catch in the ninth inning and Realmuto becoming the first catcher to hit an extra-inning homer in a World Series game since Carlton Fisk in 1976.
And for the Astros, well, they still haven’t won a Game 1 in their World Series history.
Verlander set the tone, retiring the first 10 batters he faced and cruising with a 5-0 lead entering the fourth inning.
Yet, by the time folks returned to their seats from the long nacho line, it was tied.
Verlander, who had thrown just 36 pitches the first three innings, threw 31 pitches alone in the fourth, giving up three runs, including a two-out, two-run double to Alec Bohm.
In the fifth inning, it was Realmuto’s turn for a two-run double, tying the game, and once again leaving Verlander winless in the World Series – 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA.
Verlander has been here since the beginning of the Astros’ glorious run, winning the World Series in 2017, the pennant in 2019, 2021, 2022, and reaching the American League Championship Series all six years.
Call it a dynasty?
“I mean, how could you not?’’ Verlander said. “I sure would like to cement another championship to really drive that point home, and here we are with a chance to do that. But, we’ve obviously been one of the best franchises in the history of the game since this run we’ve been on.’’
The Astros still need four victories to pull it off, and they discovered Friday night, they are facing a team that refuses to quit.
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