HOUSTON – Kyle Schwarber stayed near home plate after he had already rounded the bases on what was initially ruled a fair ball. He was about to get another swing, and the slugger launched a long drive again.
Neither of those meaty cuts in the eighth inning Saturday night — which sent balls a total of 756 feet — resulted in a much-needed homer for the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the World Series as they tried to overcome another five-run deficit.
Following a 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros, the wild-card Phillies go home even in the Fall Classic. They are 5-0 this postseason at Citizens Bank Park, where Game 3 is Monday night.
With a runner at first and no outs, Schwarber pulled reliever Rafael Montero’s 96 mph fastball down the right field line, a towering shot near the pole. The slugger leaned to watch the ball, along with plate umpire Pat Hoberg.
After some initial confusion, Schwarber didn’t even drop his bat and start trotting around the bases until right field umpire James Hoye appeared to signal fair ball.
“I thought, you know, I don’t know — I was like, oh, did they see something I didn’t see?” Schwarber said. “Maybe he thought it nicked (the pole) or something.”
The six umpires then came together to discuss the play. They went to a replay review, which showed the ball barely hooked foul — just as Astros fans in that corner had been signaling since Schwarber sent the 2-2 pitch soaring 403 feet.
“It was close, but it was foul,” Schwarber said.
“Well, it looked foul to me, but the umpire called it fair, and then they got together, called it foul,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “I just went out and I said, `Why don’t we just check it just to make sure it just didn’t clip off the foul pole?'”
When Schwarber got back in the box, he got another 96 mph fastball from Montero. Schwarber hit another deep shot, this one 353 feet and caught by right fielder Kyle Tucker with his back against the wall.
“You don’t see it too often where a guy hits a foul home run and then hits a fair home run,” Thomson said. “But he almost pulled it off. That would have been nice.”
Pinch-hitter Bryson Stott started the eighth by drawing a walk, the fourth inning a row the Phillies got their leadoff runner on base. Only one of them scored.
The Phillies didn’t have two runners on base at the same time until the sixth, after Schwarber walked and Rhys Hoskins singled. They were in the perfect part of their batting order to start another big comeback, too.
Except J.T. Realmuto, whose 10th-inning homer in Game 1 was the difference in a 6-5 win, swung and missed at a 96 mph heater from Astros starter Framber Valdez. Cleanup hitter Bryce Harper grounded into an inning-ending double play on the next pitch.
“I thought he kept us off balance pretty well tonight,” Harper said about Valdez. "We had some opportunities, especially myself, to get something going, but wasn’t able to do that.”
Harper went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and stranded five runners. That ended the NL Championship Series MVP's postseason hitting streak at 11 games. He had reached base in each of the Phillies' first 12 postseason games.
The Astros also turned a double play in the fifth after a leadoff single.
Nick Castellanos started the seventh with a double and scored Philadelphia's first run on a sacrifice fly by Jean Segura right after Valdez came out of the game.
Phillies ace Zack Wheeler was quickly doubled up in his first World Series start. He allowed three doubles on the first four pitches he threw as the Astros jumped ahead 2-0.
The right-hander began the postseason with 11 1/3 scoreless innings and pitched in two Philadelphia wins during the NLCS against San Diego. But he struggled against the Astros, who weren’t going to blow a 5-0 lead for the second night in a row.
Wheeler gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits over five innings. He struck out three and walked three while throwing 41 of 69 pitches for strikes.
An error by shortstop Edmundo Sosa extended the first and allowed a third run to score, then Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer off Wheeler in the fifth.
“He was just a little off. It was a little bit light stuff, and location was a little bit off,” Thomson said. “Should have only given up two runs in the first inning and then Bregman hits a home run. He got behind him, and beat him to the spot."
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