The Houston Astros – led by starter Cristian Javier – threw the second no-hitter in World Series history. Javier and three innings of relief combined to blank the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 in Game 4 on Wednesday night and pull Houston in the series in historic fashion.
The no-hitter joins Don Larson’s perfect game for the 1956 New York Yankees in World Series history. It’s his third no-hitter of the season, and it comes in the same ballpark as his second: Roy Halladay’s NLDS no-hitter for the Phillies in 2010.
The precociously calm 25-year-old Astros starter Javier Houston fired six innings to help quiet the Philadelphia crowd and rebounded from a disastrous Game 3 to strike out nine and walk two. After 97 games, manager Dusty Baker turned to the bullpen with a handshake. Brian Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressley each pitched an inning to shut him out. In all, the Astros hit 14 Phillies in a row between the walks in the third and ninth innings, retiring 18 of them.
“I mean it’s crazy.” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman spoke after the game, reflecting on the history of his club’s pitchers. “We grew up watching the World Series. We know baseball has been going on for a long time. So to be a part of it, to be a teammate on a team that did that and what JV and all those guys did is really special.”
Cristian Javier has a star turn on the World Series stage.
As the author of the longest hitless streak in the World Series with a perfect start against Larson, Javier enters the record books as the first full season Major League starter.
It makes an eclipse Atlanta Braves Pitcher Ian Anderson went five innings without allowing a hit in Game 3 of the 2021 World Series against the Astros. The Braves bullpen finally allowed the first hit to lead off the eighth.
And this was no problem at all. Javier threw seven flawless frames to start a combined no-hitter against the Yankees earlier this season and allowed the lowest batting average among starters in baseball in the second half.
The Phillies had no offense early this year with a no-hitter against the New York Mets in April.
In a big flash of what proved to be an enthusiastic starter, Javier was nicknamed “El Reptile” – the reptile – because early in his career, coaches considered him cold-blooded, a descriptor that now seems particularly apt. After the game, Javier told Ken Rosenthal that his parents had assured him he would throw a one-hitter.
Javier now has a 0.71 ERA in 12 2/3 innings through the 2022 playoffs. And it may not work. Baker said Javier could be available for two or three innings in Game 7 if the series stretches that far.
How Cristian Javier’s fastball got past the Phillies.
A night earlier, he beat the Phillies in Game 3 and beat Lance McCullers Jr. – mostly with a fastball you can see in fantasy. From Javier’s 97 pitches in Game 4, the 70s were impressive.
There are two things to understand about his devastating four-seamer: He throws it up. And to hit, he seems to get higher as he approaches the plate.
That’s the most sought-after combination in baseball. He achieves that with effective spin on the ball, a four-seam level that creates the illusion of “high” among the best moves in the game. Using a lower three-quarter arm angle makes it more difficult for hitters to pick up the ball’s flight path. In the year Of the 169 pitchers who threw out at least 500 four-hitters in 2022, Javier’s fastball classification was the best of all but eight, Statcast said. But his release score was less than 127.
Hitters had a .183 batting average during the regular season, one of the 10 best marks in baseball. The Phillies hit as many fastballs as any MLB team in 2022, but not all fastballs are created equal, and an attack could cost them chances against runners in Game 4.
With increased action on his fastball, Javier generates an unusually high number of popups and fly balls. When balls in the air are not square, they tend to go automatic. Of the nine balls the Phillies have played against him, six have been in the air and three have been popups.
Oh, and when hitters are busy trying to deal with that, he rips off a biting slider or a spinning curveball.
Behind the plate, Christian Vazquez made his second postseason start as the Astros’ catcher, and first since Game 3 of the ALCS. After that, Javier ponders the weapons he needs to defeat the poets.
Vazquez, a trade deadline acquisition from the Boston Red Sox, served as Boston’s leadoff hitter during their 2018 championship run.
The Astros have confirmed that the World Series will end in Houston
All of Houston’s runs came in the fifth inning. They chased down Phillies starter Aaron Nolan by hitting three straight singles. When Phillies relief star Jose Alvarado came in, he pinch-hit for Jordan Alvarez to drive in the first run, then Bregman followed with a two-RBI double.
An Astros win would guarantee the series would return to Houston, requiring at least six games to clinch the title. Three of the past four World Series have ended in Houston, and the one that hasn’t is the 2020 neutral site Fall Classic in Arlington, Texas.
Game 5 will still be in Philadelphia, though.
The Phillies hit a rallying cry after being told they were turning the page. Kyle Schwarber, leader and clubhouse leader, was asked about the questionable adventure. “I really don’t give a damn. I guess we’re going to be in the history books,” he told reporters.
In Game 5, Astros ace Justin Verlander will face the Phillies’ Noah Syndergaard. It starts Thursday night at 8 pm ET on FOX.
How did we get here? Find out everything you need to know for the World Series: