Before Houston Astros pitcher Cristian Javier hit the mound at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night, he spoke to his mom and dad in the Dominican Republic about the start of Game 4 of the World Series.
They had a prediction after Tuesday night’s loss: their son was going to throw a no-hitter.
“Yeah, they told me last night,” Javier said after the Astros did just that: combine for a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies to tie the series at two apiece with their 5-0 win. It was the second time in World Series history that this had happened, as New York Yankees legend Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Javier said his response to his parents was, “We’re going to stay positive, and with God’s help, we were going to.”
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Consider Javier the most positive pitcher in MLB.
The young right-hander went six hitless innings on 97 pitches, but manager Dusty Baker had seen this story unfold before. It was June 25 when Javier got the ball back against the Yankees in the Bronx, and he lit up the stat sheet with 13 strikeouts and no hits in seven innings. The Astros bullpen would keep their no-hitter alive and combine for it when all was said and done in the 3-0 victory.
Baker did the same this time around, firing Javier instead of letting him go for the story.
Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and closer Ryan Pressly closed the Phillies’ lineup to mark their place in MLB history, as third baseman Alex Bregman recovered a short jump off the bat from JT Realmuto and the fired Yuli Gurriel at first base to cap the historic night.
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“We’re playing for it and making it so special is even better,” said Christian Vazquez, who was behind the plate to catch the Astros throughout the night. “It was special. Everyone did a great job and we’re happy to be able to split the series and finish at home.”
Baker not only saw that play out in a Javier departure months ago, but also saw the late Roy Halladay finish the second playoff no-hitter in MLB history in the 2010 NLDS vs. the Cincinnati Reds – the team Baker was managing at the time.
Baker may not have said it directly, but the decision to remove Javier appears to be based on how green he is in MLB and how the year ended.
“We had a new bullpen, our guys are throwing well there, and we thought that was enough, especially at the end of the year,” Baker said. “We had it around 100, we didn’t want to throw it in the next inning. But boy, it was a way to win a ball game. The fans are excited, our fans are excited anyway. This brought back memories of when Doc Halladay didn’t hit us when I was in Cincinnati I guess it was meant to happen.
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Javier didn’t fear being knocked out, as his only mindset was to attack the batters and go deeper into the game. He did this using his “disappearing” fastball, as Baker called it.
“The one he got tonight, when I first met him, they told me he had a fastball that was disappearing. I’m like ‘there’s no such thing’. But I guess so,” Baker said as he watched Javier throw 70 fastballs on his 97 pitches. “This guy has been doing it for us all year. It’s ironic that Cristian is throwing Christian. We needed this game tonight to close the streak.
“This guy was on the team during this COVID year, 2020. We thought we knew what we had, but we really didn’t. His control was a little off at the time. He learned to control, he has a much better slider than he had been, and the sky is the limit for this young man.”
The simple goal for the Astros on Wednesday night after being bombarded by the Phillies in Game 3 was simply to win and tie the series, so they could return to Houston for at least Game 6.
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The history of the World Series was the icing on the cake.