PHILADELPHIA – Kyle Schwarber stepped to the plate in the eighth inning with Game 5 riding on his powerful bat — and frenzied Phillies fans waving “We Want A Schwarbomb!!” signs — and ripped the ball down the first-base line.
Early in the game, the scorcher is a game-tying double. But defensive replacement Trey Mancini snagged the ball from his knees and tapped first base to leave two runners stranded and end the inning.
J.T. Realmuto gave the ball a ride in the ninth, only for Houston center fielder Chas McCormick to make the catch of his career against the wall. Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch with two outs but — yes, one more time — the final Phillies baserunner was left stranded when Nick Castellanos grounded out to end the 3-2 loss to the Astros on Thursday night.
“Being at home, we were excited for the opportunity,” Harper said of big hitters up in the ninth. “It just didn't happen.”
Tough luck or not, the Phillies' crunch-time flops cost them again and the NL champions are also down 3-2 in the World Series headed into Game 6.
A night after the Phillies became the second team ever to be no-hit in the World Series, a punchless lineup had another meager game after Schwarber led off the game with a home run. Just six hits in Game 5.
Back in a hole, the Phillies don’t have a long summer ahead to pull off another comeback. And unless they start hitting in Houston, their next ride home will be only for a clubhouse cleanout -- not a parade.
Each rally-killing out raised one question among the Philly faithful -- Uhh, so how are the Eagles doing?
Harper was reliable again with two walks and a double but the Phillies let Houston ace Justin Verlander, who had been winless in six World Series decisions, and four relievers off the hook.
“They made big pitches in big situations,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “I thought we kept the pressure on them throughout the game. It started with Schwarber. Got us right back in the game.”
Schwarber homered on Verlander’s second pitch in Game 5, a day after four Astros pitchers combined on the no-hitter against Philadelphia. The Astros had held the Phillies hitless for 11 innings dating to Game 3, matching the longest streak in any postseason set by the New York Yankees in 1939. Philadelphia hitters were 0 for 36 in that span.
The Phillies loaded the bases in the second with two outs. Hoskins struck out swinging on an 89 mph slider that sucked the air out of Citizens Bank Park. Hoskins struck out four times and is hitting just .142 in the World Series.
In the third, Philadelphia again had two runners on base and two outs, only Bryson Stott snuffed the threat with a fly out to right.
In the fifth, Castellanos slammed his helmet on the dirt after his flyout to left ended the inning and left the tying run stranded on second base to keep it a 2-1 game.
“I just missed it,” he said. “It's a game of centimeters or whatever. If I'm on top of that ball a little bit more, we're in a different situation the rest of the game. He made his pitch and I got out.”
The Phillies look nothing like the team that used sharp pitching and booming bats in a September surge that returned them to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Philadelphia’s final numbers were tougher to digest than a late-night cheesesteak.
— 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
— 12 runners left on base.
— 0 for 17. The combined Game 5 totals for Hoskins, Realmuto, Castellanos and Stott.
— And it gets worse for Realmuto. The Gold Glove catcher is 1-for-17 with 11 strikeouts since his solo homer in the 10th inning of Game 1 rallied the Phillies to a 6-5 win. He struck out three times in Game 5 and the Phillies struck out 13 times overall.
“Sometimes you go through times when you don’t hit with runners in scoring position and then three days later everybody’s getting hits,” manager Rob Thomson said. “So we just got to keep battling, that’s all.”
The Phillies don't have three days. They have until Game 6 on Saturday to find hits in those slumbering bats.
Without the late-game dramatics, Philly sports fans with divided loyalties might have flipped the channel to catch the undefeated Eagles put the finishing touches on a 29-17 win in Houston over the Texans.
The Texans put the score of the World Series on the big screens early and often. When they showed the Astros were already up 1-0 before kickoff, the crowd roared with approval.
Chants of “Let’s go Astros” rang out in the club level of the stadium almost an hour after the football game had ended.
Eagles players stuck around Houston long enough to watch the ninth inning in the locker room. Back home, the Phillies showed short clips of Eagles touchdowns.
It was the most scoring another sellout crowd of 45,693 would see from a Philly team all night.
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