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Close don’t count: Astros 3, Phillies 2

The Phillies were close to winning game five of the World Series, but they didn’t.

World Series - Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Five
Heroics by Nick Castellanos will have to wait for another day
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

In game five of the World Series, the Phillies had plenty of good scoring opportunities and had a couple of close calls on balls that could have been hits. Unfortunately, all that resulted in was two runs, which was one less than the Astros scored. As a result, the series is moving to Houston with the Astros standing one win away from a title.

The game started off auspiciously as Jose Altuve led off against Noah Syndergaard with a double and moved to third on an error. He quickly scored when Jeremy Pena singled past a drawn-in infield, and it looked like it might be another tough night for the Phillies.

But momentum shifted quickly, as Syndergaard got an unconventional double play by striking out Yordan Alvarez followed by J.T. Realmuto throwing out Pena on a steal attempt. Syndergaard then struck out Alex Bregman to end the inning, bringing Kyle Schwarber to the plate. Schwarber was determined to make sure the Phillies would neither get no-hit nor shutout again.

Sadly, Schwarber’s blast was not representative of the Phillies’ offense in this game. The Phillies would get their share of runners on base, but run-scoring hits were harder to come by. Rhys Hoskins struck out with the bases loaded in the second. Stott flied out with two on in the third, and Schwarber grounded out with two on in the sixth.

Syndergaard was pitching well after the early hiccup, and with Alvarez on deck in the fourth, it was thought that Pena would be his last batter. And so he was.

The Phillies’ bullpen has been surprisingly effective during this series, and for the most part, they were again on Thursday. But manager Rob Thomson may have erred in trying to get a second inning out of Seranthony Dominguez in the eighth. The first two runners reached base, and even though David Robertson came in and limited the damage to a single run, that was one more run the Phillies could afford to give up.

To their credit, the Phillies continue to battle. The offense finally got something going in the bottom of the eighth, when two runners got on base for Jean Segura.

Astros closer Ryan Pressly was then brought into the game for a five-out save opportunity. He had little difficulty striking out Brandon Marsh, but Schwarber smacked a hard shot down the line. Sadly, it found glove, not grass.

In the ninth, with the heart of the lineup due up, the possibility of a Phillies comeback couldn’t be ruled out. But Rhys Hoskins capped off his crappy night with his fourth strikeout, and J.T. Realmuto followed with another ball that might have been a hit in an alternate universe.

Pressly pitched very carefully to Bryce Harper and eventually hit him with a pitch. This brought the winning run to the plate in the form of Nick Castellanos. Castellanos worked the count full, and I’ll admit that I started to hope that maybe his disappointment of a season might be leading up to heroics in the World Series.

But no, we simply got more disappointment. Castellanos grounded out, and the Phillies will need to win both games in Houston if they want to be crowned champions. All World Series losses are crushing, but this one may be especially so, because unlike the one-sided game four, the Phillies had plenty of chances to win this one.

The situation looks dire, and most people probably don’t expect the Phillies to win one game in Houston, let alone two. But the series isn’t over until that fourth win is secured, and if any team was going to come back from a situation that seems hopeless, why wouldn’t it be the 2022 Phillies? If you don’t have any faith, just remember: After having a lot of breaks go against them in this one, maybe the Phillies are due for some of them going their way over the final two games of the series.

See you on Saturday!