HOUSTON — Yordan Alvarez hit a towering go-ahead homer and the Houston Astros clinched their second World Series title in six seasons and got Dusty Baker his first crown as a manager with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 on Saturday night.
As Alvarez's 450-foot blast in the sixth inning disappeared, Astros starter Framber Valdez jumped and wildly screamed in the dugout as fans in the crowd of 42,948 went into a frenzy waving their orange rally towels.
Baker finally got his first title in his 25th season as a manager, the past three since being hired by the Astros to help the team regain credibility after the sign-stealing scandal that cost manger A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs, and made Houston the most reviled team in baseball.
The 73-year-old Baker, who had been to the World Series twice before as a skipper, is the oldest championship manager.
Houston's coaching and training staffs circled around Baker after Nick Castellanos flied out to end it, jumping up and down, and chanting “Dusty! Dusty! Dusty!” in the dugout before they joined the players on the field.
Astros rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña was the World Series MVP after getting another key hit, a single to set up Alvarez's drive.
The 25-year-old star from the Dominican Republic also won a Gold Glove award and AL Championship Series MVP — Peña is the first hitter to win those three awards in a career, and he did it all in his first season, per OptaSTATS.
Alvarez’s homer cleared the batter’s eye in straightaway center, the backdrop that extends 40 feet above the field, and made it 3-1. It was the first time the Cuban slugger connected since the first two games this postseason.
Christian Vázquez added an RBI single later in the inning to make it 4-1.
Valdez earned his second win of this Series. He had been in the dugout only a few minutes after throwing his 93rd and final pitch while striking out nine over six innings.
But the lefty had walked off the mound with the wild-card Phillies up 1-0 on Kyle Schwarber’s solo homer leading off the sixth.
Schwarber, who hit his third homer in the past four games, rounded the bases waving his raised empty hand in the same motion as the fans with their towels.
But by the time Schwarber batted in the eighth, the NL's home run leader was reduced to bunting, trying for a hit to stir a dormant Phillies offense. His bunt went foul with two strikes, resulting in a strikeout.
In the sixth, Houston got two runners on base against starter Zack Wheeler for the first time in the game, with Jose Altuve reaching on a forceout after a hit batter and Peña singling.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson went to left-handed reliever Jose Alvarado to face the lefty slugger for the fourth time in the series — Alvarez had popped out twice and been hit by a pitch the first three times.
And Alvarado had allowed only three homers to left hitters in his six big league seasons until his 2-1 pitch when Alvarez crushed the 99 mph sinker.
Alvarez hadn’t homered since Game 2 of the AL Division Series against Seattle when his two-run shot in the sixth inning put them up to stay. That came after his game-ending, three-run shot in Game 1 for an 8-7 win.
Houston won an American League-best 106 games and reached its fourth World Series during a span in which it made it to the AL Championship Series six seasons in a row. The Astros made their only other World Series appearance in 2005, while still in the National League, and were swept in four games by the Chicago White Sox.
This was their third ALCS and second consecutive World Series since former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers revealed after the 2019 season when he had gone from Houston for two years since being part of their 2017 championship, that the team had used a camera in center field to steal signs and signal hitters on which pitches to expect by banging on a garbage can.
Philadelphia was 22-29 when Joe Girardi was fired in early June and replaced by bench coach Thomson, the 59-year-old baseball lifer getting his first chance a big league manager — he was on the Yankees big league staff for 10 seasons with Girardi, and was part of their last World Series and title in 2009.
The Phillies finished the regular season 65-46 under Thomson, their 87 wins good for the sixth and final spot in the NL playoffs, on way to their first World Series since 2009.
Valdez became the only left-hander other than Sandy Koufax in 1963 to strike five consecutive batters in a World Series game. He fanned the side in the third, then Bryce Harper swung and missed a 97 mph sinker to start the fourth before Castellanos’ 10-pitch at-bat that ended with him taking a 96 mph pitch on the inside corner — and clearly disagreeing with home plate umpire Lance Barksdale.
When Wheeler was on the mound in between that, he broke at least three Houston bats in the bottom of the third, and had to make one play while a shattered bat flew over his head and around him. The barrel of Chas McCormick’s bat landed short of second base and then slid all the way to the outfield grass.
After midseason addition, Trey Mancini singled for his first career postseason hit, a pitch after having to change bats, McCormick’s second bat of the pate appearance shattered at the handle by a 97 mph sinker, with the barrel finally landing short of second base and then sliding to the edge of the outfield grass. Wheeler made the play and threw to second baseman Jean Segura for the force with the bat still moving between him and Mancini running toward the base.
Wheeler gave up three doubles and two runs in his first four pitches in losing Game 2. His first four pitches a week later resulted in a strikeout of Altuve, and the right-hander matched a career-best needing only seven pitches to get out of the first inning.
Wheeler finished with 70 pitches, allowing two runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.
The Phillies had two runners on in the second, around two called third strikes when No. 9 batter Edmundo Sosa hit a drive to deep left. The ball was caught more than 360 feet away from the plate by Alvarez, in the cutout beyond the Crawford boxes. That ball would have been a home run in at least two MLB parks.
Schwarber homed on a 2-2 sinker, going down on the 96 mph pitch to pull it 395 feet into the right-field seats — well away from the pole, and well over the fence. He hit back-to-back pitches a total of 756 feet in Game 2, the first initially called fair before a crew chief review determined the 403-foot drive curled just foul and then a flyball caught at the wall 353 feet away from the plate.
It was the 15th career postseason homer for Schwarber, who hit .412 in the 2016 World Series for the Chicago Cubs, when he was activated after being out since early April because of a torn ACL.
Phillies: In less than four months, the Phillies will be back in Texas to begin their 2023 regular season, about 250 miles away for the opener of an interleague series March 30 against the Texas Rangers.
Astros: Whether or not Baker and/or general manager James Click are back — neither is signed past this season — the World Series champs will play their 2023 season opener at home March 30 against the Chicago White Sox.
Game updates below:
Astros vs. Phillies ninth inning
FINAL: Astros 4, Phillies 1
Astros closer Ryan Pressly took the mound. Rhys Hoskins hit a flyout to right field for the first out. J.T. Realmuto hit a single. Bryce Harper hit a flyout to left field for the second out and Nick Castellanos fouled out for the final out.
The Houston Astros have won their second World Series title.
Astros vs. Phillies eighth inning
Astros 4, Phillies 1
Neither team scored in the eighth.
Astros vs. Phillies seventh inning
Astros 4, Phillies 1
Héctor Neris comes to the mound to replace Framber Valdez. Nick Castellanos hit a flyout to start the seventh. Neris struck out Alec Bohm and Jean Segura to send it to the bottom of the seventh.
Zach Eflin takes the mound, replacing Seranthony Domínguez for the Phillies. Jose Altuve hit a double, but was left stranded on second.
Astros vs. Phillies sixth inning
Astros 4, Phillies 1
Kyle Schwarber hit a home run to right field to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead at the start of the sixth.
Yordan Alvarez hit a three-run go-ahead home run to put the Astros ahead, 3-1. Alex Bregman drew a walk and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Seranthony Domínguez took over for Jose Alvarado, who replaced Zack Wheeler earlier in the sixth. Christian Vázquez hit an RBI single, running in Alex Bregman to extend the Astros' lead to 4-1.
Astros vs. Phillies fifth inning
Astros 0, Phillies 0
Framber Valdez retired three Phillies batters in a row to get out of the top of the fifth.
Astros batters went down in order to close out the fifth.
Astros vs. Phillies fourth inning
Astros 0, Phillies 0
Framber Valdez struck out Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos to start the fourth inning. Alec Bohm hit a flyout to right field to close out the top of the fourth.
Jeremy Peña hit a leadoff single but was left stranded at the end of the inning.
Astros vs. Phillies third inning
Astros 0, Phillies 0
Framber Valdez struck out three Phillies batters down the order to get to the bottom of the third inning.
Zack Wheeler and the Phillies managed to get through the bottom of the third safely and the Astros left a runner stranded on second.
Astros vs. Phillies second inning
Astros 0, Phillies 0
Alec Bohm picked up the first hit of the game for the Phillies with a single and Matt Vierling drew a four-pitch walk, but once again, the Astros got out of the top of the inning unscathed due to a catch against the wall by Yordan Alvarez.
Alex Bregman led off the bottom of the second inning by grounding out. Kyle Tucker drew a walk to get on base before Christian Vázquez hit a ground ball into a double play.
Astros vs. Phillies first inning
Astros 0, Phillies 0
Astros pitcher Framber Valdez walked two Phillies batters but managed to get out of the top of the inning unscathed.
Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler retired three Astros batters down the order.
Who is pitching for Game 6?
Framber Valdez (17-6, 2.77 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 194 strikeouts) will take the mound for Astros, while Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 163 strikeouts) gets the start for the Phillies. Valdez led the Astros to a victory in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park.
Valdez allowed one run, four hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings in Game 2, while Wheeler gave up five runs — four earned — and three walks over five innings, including Alex Bregman’s two-run homer.
World Series headlines
- George Strait, Jim McIngvale to get World Series Game 6 started, roof to be closed
- Astros baby boom: Kat Pressly said wives lean on each other when hubbies are on the road
- Do it for Dusty! Astros want to close out World Series over Phillies in Game 6
- Astros superstitions: Reagan Bregman on why Kate Upton holds baby Knox when Alex is at bat
- Major events in Houston expected to bring in millions of dollars this weekend
Jim 'Mattress Mack' McIngvale will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and Texas country music legend George Strait will give the 'Play Ball' call.
Strait met with Astros legend Craig Biggio before the game and signed some pictures for a lucky fan.
By the numbers
Houston has a 55-26 record at home and a 106-56 record overall. The Astros have the fifth-best team slugging percentage in MLB play at .423.
Philadelphia has a 40-41 record on the road and an 87-75 record overall. The Phillies have a 71-33 record in games when they record at least eight hits.
The matchup Saturday is the ninth meeting between these teams this season. The Astros hold a 5-3 advantage in the season series.
Yordan Alvarez leads Houston with 37 home runs while slugging .613. Jeremy Peña is 15-for-46 with four home runs and eight RBI over the past 10 games.
Kyle Schwarber has 21 doubles, three triples and 46 home runs while hitting .218 for the Phillies. Rhys Hoskins is 7-for-39 with five home runs over the last 10 games.
Last 10 games
Astros: 8-2, .228 batting average, 2.00 ERA, outscored opponents by 11 runs
Phillies: 6-4, .205 batting average, 3.54 ERA, outscored opponents by five runs
Astros: Michael Brantley: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Jason Castro: 60-Day IL (knee), Josh James: 60-Day IL (lat)
Phillies: Kent Emanuel: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Mark Appel: 60-Day IL (elbow), Simon Muzziotti: 60-Day IL (knee), Corey Knebel: 60-Day IL (lat), Hans Crouse: 60-Day IL (biceps), James McArthur: 60-Day IL (elbow), Damon Jones: 60-Day IL (shoulder)
If you plan on heading downtown, Houston police are warning drivers to be aware of the closures around Minute Maid Park due to the World Series. There is also the International Quilt Festival being held this weekend at the George R. Browne Convention Center.
Check out KHOU 11 traffic expert Jennifer Reyna's recommendations.
Yuli Gurriel out
Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel is out for Game 6 after he sustained an injury to his right knee during a rundown in Game 5. Game 5 hero Trey Mancini will start at first base, while Korey Lee has been added to the roster.
MLB announced this morning that the roof will be closed at Minute Maid Park for Game 6 Saturday night. MLB makes the decision on whether it remains open or closed during the World Seris.