Cristian Javier and Houston’s bullpen combined on just the second no-hitter in World Series history, silencing a booming lineup and boisterous ballpark as the Astros blanked the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 Wednesday night to even the matchup at two games each.
The only previous no-hitter in the World Series was a perfect game by Don Larsen of the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.
Javier and three relievers weren’t perfect, but they were close. Plus, they’d done this before: Javier, the starter in a combined no-hitter against the New York Yankees in June, was pulled with a no-hitter in progress after 97 pitches this time.
Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly each followed with a hitless inning, ensuring this year’s championship will be decided this weekend back at Minute Maid Park.
The quartet of pitchers posed with catcher Christian Vazquez near the visiting dugout moments after the game, each putting a hand on the game ball for a photo.
Game 5 is on Thursday night in Philly. Astros ace Justin Verlander will again chase that elusive first World Series win when he faces Noah Syndergaard.
They can only hope to pitch as well as Javier.
By the time the 25-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic exited, the only hit maker on the Philadelphia side who showed up on the scoreboard was rocker Bruce Springsteen, pictured surrounded by Phillies fans.
And a few innings later, as fans started leaving Citizens Bank Park, there actually were boos for postseason star Bryce Harper and the Phillies. First lady Jill Biden, a noted Phillies fan, was among those in the crowd of 45,693 who had little to shout about.
Alex Bregman delivered the hit Houston desperately needed, a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning, and that was plenty for the Astros.
Completely in charge, Javier struck out nine, walked two and hardly allowed any loud contact. He tamed a club that had been 6-0 at home this postseason while hitting 17 home runs, including a Series record-tying five in a 7-0 romp in Game 3.
Very still on the mound, Javier carved his own quiet spot in the middle of the Phillies’ storm. Backing off onto the grass, straightening his hat, rubbing the ball, taking deep breaths, he proceeded at his own pace.
Next year, Javier won’t be able to work quite this way. Major League Baseball is instituting a pitch clock 15 seconds to throw with the bases empty, 20 with someone on base and Javier often surpassed those limits on this evening, drawing boos from a crowd eager for action.
Anyhow, it worked at the start.
When Javier held the Phillies scoreless through the first three innings, it was no small feat. No visiting pitcher had done that during the postseason in this bouncing ballpark.
In Javier’s last start, he shut out the Yankees on one hit in five and one-third innings in the Bronx during the AL Championship Series.
This performance by Javier came a year after Atlanta’s Ian Anderson was taken out after pitching five hitless innings against Houston.