Yordan Alvarez smashed a three-run homer and the Houston Astros captured their second World Series in six seasons on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over Philadelphia.
The Cuban slugger’s sixth-inning blast off Phillies relief pitcher Jose Alvarado gave Houston the lead for good as the Astros took Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship final four games to two.
“I just tried to stay a little calm and get a good pitch to swing at and that’s what I did,” Alvarez said of his third game-winning playoff homer.
“It was amazing. When I was rounding second base I felt the whole stadium moving.”
The Astros, in their fourth World Series in six seasons and fifth overall, won their only prior title in 2017, but many MLB fans regard that effort as a tainted crown.
An MLB investigation revealed an electronic sign stealing system by the Astros, who used cameras in 2017 and 2018 to swipe signs from rivals, players and staff banging on drums to signal Houston batters what pitch was coming.
The Astros lost their next two World Series appearances, to Washington in 2019 and Atlanta last year.
But this year’s lineup, including five players from the 2017 roster, delivered a heart-warming title run for the manager who helped the Astros move beyond the scandal, 73-year-old Dusty Baker, the oldest manager in World Series history.
It was the first World Series title as a manager for Baker after 25 seasons as an MLB bench boss, although he won a title as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981.
“He means everything,” Astros star Jose Altuve said of Baker. “He came here at the right time with the right team and won his first World Series.”
Baker, whose 2,093 wins were the most for any manager without a World Series title, took over the Astros in January 2020 after A.J. Hinch was fired in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal and emotions have been high for years over his title quest.
The Phillies, who sought their third World Series crown after 1980 and 2008, had not reached the playoffs since 2011 and hadn’t reached the World Series since 2009.
Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler, game two’s losing pitcher, started against Houston’s Framber Valdez, a Dominican left-hander unbeaten in this year’s playoffs.
Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber blasted a solo home run off Valdez in the sixth, his third homer of the World Series, to open the scoring.
But in the bottom of the sixth, Altuve reached first base on a fielder’s choice and took third on a single by Jeremy Pena, prompting the Phillies to remove Wheeler for Alvarado.
Alvarez then made them pay by blasting the ball over the centerfield wall to put the hosts in front.
“I knew as soon as he hit that one it was a big one,” Altuve said. “I thought 3-1 would be a good lead for us to win the ball game.”
Alex Bregman added another run in the sixth when he walked, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a Christian Vazquez single to create the final margin.
Astros relief pitchers allowed only two runs over 18 1/3 innings with 25 strikeouts through the first five games and once again dominated Phillies batters over the final three innings to seal the victory.
“This pitching staff has been amazing all year,” Houston’s Martin Maldonado said. “The bullpen has been really good. We get to them and then adios.”
Pena singled in the fourth inning to become the first rookie with a hit in each of the first six games of a World Series.