J.T. Realmuto caps Phillies comeback with homer in the 10th to beat Astros, 6-5, in World Series opener – The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Phillies erased a 5-0 deficit and Realmuto drove in three runs, including the go-ahead blast to grab a 1-0 series lead.
HOUSTON — J.T. Realmuto promised himself that he would pause during his pregame warmup Friday night, look around, and take in the sights and sounds. The occasion called for — nay, it demanded — a few moments of reflection.
But three innings into the 118th World Series, Realmuto and the rest of the Phillies still looked like tourists in Times Square.
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Kyle Tucker, who said that the Houston Astros were “hoping to get it out of the way early” and sweep their way to a title, bashed two home runs almost before the national anthem had been sung. The Phillies were in a five-run hole. The World Series was playing out just as most pundits predicted.
Thanks for coming, Phillies. Please accept a parting gift.
Only Tucker and those pundits haven’t been paying attention. For the past month, the Phillies have defied the odds. They’ve stared down logic and spat in its face. They have overcome everything and feared nothing.
“We’ve felt like the underdog a little bit — or at least been told we’re the underdog,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “And I think that doesn’t necessarily sit well with us.”
And so, facing their largest deficit in the postseason, the Phillies rallied to win a Game 1 for the ages. Against future Hall of Fame pitcher Justin Verlander. With Rob Thomson managing the bullpen like it was Game 7. It took 10 innings — and 4 hours, 32 minutes — but Realmuto hit a go-ahead solo homer in a 6-5 victory that will rank among the unlikeliest in the Phillies’ 140-year existence.
How unlikely? In postseason history, teams that led by at least five runs were 589-18. Make it 589-19. The Phillies were 0-11 in the playoffs when trailing by five runs or more. Not anymore.
And consider the degree of difficulty. The Astros, a 106-win team in the regular season, hadn’t lost yet in the playoffs. Verlander, who will almost certainly win his third Cy Young Award this season after posting a 1.75 ERA, didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning and looked like he may never give one up.
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“We just kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Yeah, we’ve been here before,’” third baseman Alec Bohm said. “Should we go up to the clubhouse and just quit and start tomorrow’s game? Is that what we should do? Or should we just play?”
Indeed, none of this was the least bit surprising. Not the two-out rally in the fourth inning that featured a two-strike RBI single by Nick Castellanos and Bohm’s two-run double. Not Realmuto’s game-tying two-run double in the fifth. Not Thomson’s move to bring in lefty Jose Alvarado in the fifth inning or to use Game 3 starter Ranger Suárez in the seventh.
Not even Castellanos’ game-saving sliding catch in right field in the ninth inning on a sinking fly ball that caused Hoskins to think, “Dang it,” as he followed its trajectory. It was a carbon copy of a play that Castellanos, not known for his defense, made in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the divisional series in Atlanta.
The Phillies have been doing this all month, rampaging through the playoffs with big play after big play, unexpected victory after unexpected victory.
Why stop now just because it’s the World Series?
“I’m telling you,” Hoskins said, “these moments keep popping up. It’s been cool to see a lot of different guys respond.”
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This time, Realmuto took his turn. Again.
Never mind that squatted behind the plate for 1,131 innings in the regular season, 100 more than any other major league catcher. Or that he has caught every inning in the postseason for the Phillies.
“I’m honestly not sure how my body is going to respond until the season is over,” Realmuto said. “Right now I’m running on so much adrenaline that I feel pretty great every night.”
Even after taking took a foul ball off the mask in the sixth inning, jarring his jaw?
“It’s probably not going to be very easy for me to eat dinner tonight,” Realmuto said. “But as long as my head’s OK, I’ll be good to go.”
No reason to let a ding stop Realmuto from hitting a dinger on a 97 mph fastball from Astros reliever Luis Garcia and becoming the first catcher since Carlton Fisk in 1975 to hit an extra-inning homer in the World Series.
“It’s incredible. That’s who he is, right?” said Bryce Harper, a student of baseball history who wore a powder-blue Mike Schmidt jersey to the ballpark. “I don’t think any of us are shocked in here of him doing his job and doing it at the level he does.”
Realmuto wasn’t sure the ball would get out. Tucker robbed Aaron Judge of a home run in the AL Championship Series, and when he leaped at the right-field wall, Realmuto feared he may do the same.
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“I was thinking in my head, ‘Oh, please just don’t catch it, just don’t catch it,’” Realmuto said. “I knew it was going to be close.”
But if it’s October 2022, it undoubtedly goes the Phillies’ way.
Verlander got through three innings in 36 pitches. But everything changed the second time through the order. The Phillies made him throw 31 pitches in a three-run fourth inning, 10 of which came on a two-out walk by rookie shortstop Bryson Stott.
Realmuto tied it in the fifth, at which point Thomson got ultra-aggressive with the bullpen. He brought in Alvarado in the fifth inning to face lefty-hitting Yordan Alvarez, then turned to Zach Eflin and even Suárez to face Alvarez in the seventh inning and Tucker in the eighth.
“I trust anything that man does,” Castellanos said.
Said Thomson: “Once we scored the three [runs] you were kind of feeling it, like OK we got back in this thing, now the momentum’s changed. That’s really why I went to Alvarado in the fifth inning, which I haven’t done all year, because I thought that it was so important to keep that momentum and we’ll figure out the rest later.”
Of course. Because these Phillies figure everything out.
» READ MORE: Pressure? In the playoffs? Not for these Phillies, who conquered the bigger stress of getting here.
And now, 12 years, 11 months, and 25 days after owner John Middleton knelt beside Ryan Howard in a funereal visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium after the 2009 World Series and said, “I want my [bleeping] trophy back,” the Phillies are three wins from returning it to him.
“There’s never a doubt with this club,” said David Robertson, who closed it out in the 10th despite allowing a hit and a walk. “This team’s resilient. They don’t stop fighting for every run we get. We can come back from anything.”
By now, that much is obvious.

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