PHILADELPHIA — Cristian Javier could have claimed an almost unprecedented piece of World Series history all to himself on Wednesday night. Instead, he shared the glory — and with two more wins, the Houston Astros could reap the ultimate prize.
Javier pitched six no-hitter innings, dominating the Philadelphia Phillies so much in Game 4 that he certainly could have become the second pitcher to go a solo no-hitter in a World Series game. But he was out after six innings and 97 pitches, and Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly finished the job, joining Javier for a combined no-hitter and a 5-0 Astros victory that framed this World Series at 2- 2.
It was only the second no-hitter in World Series history, joining Don Larsen of the New York Yankees, who pitched a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. And it was only the third no-hitter in playoff history, the first since the late Roy Halladay pulled his feet back in Game 1 of the 2010 National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds. on the same mound in Citizens Bank Park where Javier and his friends worked their Match 4 magic on Wednesday.
GAME 4: After going no-hitter against the Phillies, Astros regain control of the World Series
THURSDAY: World Series collides with TNF, both feature teams from Philly and Houston
Follow every game: MLB Live Scores
NEVER MISS A MOMENT: Follow our sports newsletter for daily updates
“My parents told me I was going to throw a no-hitter,” Javier said through an interpreter after the game.
Purists might be dismayed that Javier, who struck out nine and walked two, didn’t get a chance to finish his gem. But that was unrealistic: Javier had thrown more than 97 shots only four times this season, reaching 115 on June 25.
And what happened that day? Javier and two relievers combined on a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium.
See, the Astros have won 106 games this season, and Javier’s 11.7 strikeouts in nine innings would have ranked third in the majors had he pitched enough innings to qualify. At a club with Justin Verlander on the verge of winning his third Cy Young Award this year and southpaw Framber Valdez increasingly renowned for his playoff exploits, Javier, in fact, might be their best pitcher.
Pull out a relief appearance in the American League Divisional Series, and Javier, as a starting pitcher, has pitched 36 ⅔ straight scoreless innings, dating back to Sept. 7.
And manager Dusty Baker’s decision to fire him when he did will increase the odds that Javier will pitch a game in Game 7, should the Astros demand it.
Also, it was hard to argue with the cavalry that followed Javier and helped combine for 14 strikouts.
Bryan Abreu: Barred, barred, barred by JT Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos.
Rafael Montero: Strikeout, flyout and a running catch from Jean Segura’s shallow ball to finish the eighth.
And finally, closer Ryan Pressly, who retired Brandon Marsh, walked Kyle Schwarber to break an 18-game hitting streak, prompted a right volley from Rhys Hoskins and a grounder to Realmuto third base, to spark a celebration dizzy but muted on the ground.
But it was Javier who laid down the point boards for a Philadelphia Phillies offense that was unbeatable at home and cruised through the playoffs unstoppably.
He hit Realmuto and Nick Castellanos three times each and Bryce Harper twice, that night after Harper threw a home bacchanal with a two-run homer in Game 3, being part of five Phillies long balls that game . After leadoff hitter Schwarber sent a charge into Javier’s first pitch, driving it deep into the opposite field, Javier only allowed one ball out of the infield.
Oh, and there was that other little evening question in this World Series.
In that Game 4 do-or-die, the Astros snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak with a five-run blowout in the fifth inning, as the first five batters reached base, Yordan Alvarez broke a scoreless tie when He got hit by the reliever. Jesus Alvarado’s first pitch and Alex Bregman opened the game with a two-run brace.
It was a typical night for this Astros offense in this series, prone to long droughts followed by sudden, hard-hitting rallies. So far, the formula has kept them even in this World Series.
They’ll have Verlander in a Game 5 that will give one team the advantage as the series returns to Houston. If it’s Game 7, don’t be surprised if Javier gets a round or two.
That’s largely because he retired rather than join Larsen in the history books. A championship ring would make a worthwhile compromise.