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I hold the title and you are the challenger: Phillies vs. Astros series preview

The Phillies return to the place where their dreams died

MLB: World Series-Philadelphia Phillies at Houston Astros
The final at bat of the 2022 season didn’t go the Phillies’ way
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies have won three straight series. Seems like a good time to travel to Houston to face a team with which they have some recent history.

Houston Astros

Record: 14-11, Second place in American League West (0.5 games back)

The last time they met

It was the World Series. After three games, things were going well. And then things stopped going well.

The manager

According to the national media, we were supposed to be happy for Dusty Baker because he finally won the World Series after 23 years as a manager. But really?

What’s the deal with the Astros?

They got off to an uneven start but have won six out of their last seven. They’ve mostly been carried by their pitching staff which has yet to feel a negative effect from the departure of Justin Verlander. The offense has been a step behind, which isn’t entirely surprising since Jose Altuve is on the IL and newcomer Jose Abreu is struggling with a .554 OPS.

Naturally, Astros fans are very happy with their marquee offseason addition getting off to a slow start.

Boo this man

The Astros defeated the Phillies in the World Series, so boo all of them! Even Hector Neris? Especially Hector Neris! But especially Framber Valdez. Dude was definitely using some sort of substance on the ball.

Alvarado’s revenge?

There were some people concerned that Jose Alvarado’s unfortunate performance in game six of the World Series might have negative long-term effects. Based on his numbers so far this year, that does not appear to be the case. Now that he doesn’t walk anybody and strikes almost every batter out, there’s a good argument to be made that he’s the best reliever in baseball.

Could you imagine reading this tweet a year ago?

You have to figure that he’d welcome a chance to face down Yordan Alvarez in a key spot this series.

The Astros as an MCU villain


Thanos was the “big bad” of the first three phases of the MCU. He was hated and feared throughout the galaxy because of his immense power and often underhanded tactics. He will basically do whatever it takes to win, and if you consider that cheating, then that’s your problem. And unfortunately, in both baseball and the MCU, sometimes the bad guys win.

Apple of our eyes

Reminder that Friday night’s game will be shown exclusively on Apple TV+. In theory, it makes sense for this game to be there since it’s a World Series rematch and ostensibly the biggest game of the night. This topic merits a separate article, so for now I’ll just express skepticism that anyone will sign up for a streaming service just to watch one baseball game.

Non-Phillies thought

We’ll have to wait a few years to see if the Eagles’ recent draft picks pay off, but there does seem to be logic in saying, “Let’s take as many players as we can from a historically great college defense.”

Closing thought

The Phillies could sweep this series and it won’t be “revenge” for the World Series, because there simply is no proper revenge for losing in a championship round. That said, I would like to see the Phillies take it to the Astros this weekend. Not only because I don’t like them, but it would also be nice to see the Phillies rack up some wins against a quality opponent.

Phillies 4, Yankees 0: Come for Mick Abel and stay for Trea Turner

Gamethread 2/25: Yankees at Phillies

Rise and Phight: 2/25/2024