Do or die.
Win or go home.
Leave it all on the field.
All the cliches were out en masse prior to tonight’s game six, but all the positivity, all the hopes and prayers couldn’t save the Phillies in this one. Teetering on the brink of elimination, the Astros gave the Phillies that one, final shove over the cliff, sending them to defeat and claiming a World Series championship in the process. After a season of more ups and downs that we can recall, Philadelphia went out with a whimper.
Sending a clearly fatigued Zack Wheeler to the mound in the hopes he could get some final start magic, the Phillies had to face Framber Valdez for Houston. The first inning positive for the Phillies, too! They made Valdez work for the outs he recorded while Wheeler was pumping 98-99 with movement and very few pitches of his own. In the second, it looked like Philadelphia might have gotten to Valdez. Alec Bohm hit a single up the middle with one out, then Matt Vierling walked with two outs to give them two runners on. That brought up Edmundo Sosa, in the lineup with the lefty Valdez on the mound. It looked like Valdez hung a curveball that Sosa got a hold of, but it just stayed in the ballpark, landing softly in Yordan Alvarez’s glove at the base of the wall to end the inning.
Edmundo Sosa’s reaction had us thinking this ball was going over the train tracks pic.twitter.com/OnoEHyZEGK— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) November 6, 2022
Unfortunately, that allowed Valdez to settle in for the next few innings, though Wheeler began to match him pitch for pitch. It was an outstanding pitcher’s duel that looked like the first one to blink was going to lose the game.
In the sixth, Valdez blinked. Facing Kyle Schwarber with one out, Valdez left a fastball over the plate that Schwarber didn’t miss to begin the inning.
However, we’ve all seen this series. We knew that the Phillies needed more runs if they wanted to stave off the Astros and what we all knew was a future rally. It didn’t take long, though it was aided by what will undoubtedly be the move that will be talked about all offseason.
To begin the inning, Martin Maldonado was hit by a pitch that was difficult to tell if he leaned into or not.
The Phillies seemed to think Martín Maldonado didn't make enough of an attempt to avoid this hit-by-pitch. You be the judge. pic.twitter.com/sPsw1GAgHV— Casey Drottar (@CDrottar19) November 6, 2022
Regardless, Maldonado was on first with no one out. Jose Altuve grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first out, then went to the third when Jeremy Pena singled up the middle to put runners on the corners with one out.
A decision had to be made: would Rob Thomson remove Wheeler with 70 pitches thrown to bring in Jose Alvarado, or let him continue, facing Alvarez for a third time?
Thomson chose the latter, the choice he has made all offseason long, aggressively using his bullpen when he felt it necessary. Alvarez made him pay.
It’s going to be talked about for the entire offseason, a question that Thomson will have to answer over and over, but some credit has to be given to Alvarez for hitting a ball that hard, that far.
It just really sucks.
The Astros got an insurance run, the Phillies couldn’t hit anything else the rest of the game and that was that.
It’s all over.
We’ll have a lot more about this game and this series and this season in the coming weeks, but for now, it’s alright to feel angry, upset, happy, thankful, however you want to feel about this run. Get some sleep.