Heroes and Goats: The World Series Game You'll Want to Forget
Before we get to Heroes and Goats from Game 4, I just need to get this off my chest:
When I was driving home after the third no-hitter in Major League Baseball postseason history, I was debating with myself how to approach this day later, lunchtime analysis that I’ve been writing that has gotten fans fired up on both sides.
So, I turned on talk radio for some inspiration.
And what I heard was an impending Armageddon.
“Getting no-hit in the World series is a disgrace.”
“This team is exactly who we thought they were all along.”
“I can’t believe I let them sucker me in again only to blow it like this. Classic Phillies.”
Got to love this city. It’s so bipolar its crazy. Here are the Phillies, two wins from a championship, going toe to toe with baseball’s evil empire in Houston, writing one of the all-time great Cinderella stories, and after one loss, it’s all reverting back to “we knew all along we shouldn’t have bought in to this team.”
Even a colleague of mine, who shall remain nameless because I didn’t seek permission to use his line in this post, skewed negative last night. To his credit, he plays the part of objective well, even when he’s not being objective, but he had this to say “I don’t want to be that guy, but… Houston in six.”
There was even one irrational fan, who I saw as I was sitting in traffic eventually blaming team leadership. He was complaining about Rob Thomson, of all people, and the leaders in the clubhouse who let the team get so full of themselves that they lost their desire to win.
Maybe he was drunk, or stoned, or both. I don’t know.
What I know is that Game 4 goes down as a 5-0 loss. Yes, the Phillies were no-hit. Yes, that’s historic. But you know what can be just as historic? Becoming the first team to win a World Series after being no-hit in the same series.
And yes, that’s still possible.
And the city can’t fall apart now. Not when they’ve come this far.
Otherwise, I’ll feel like Robin Williams in the movie Awakenings and this fan base is like Robert DeNiro.
Here’s the question that I want to pose though –
Had they not been no hit last night – say they lost 5-0 still, but lets say they were able to sprinkle in a few hits. Say three-or-four. Would fans feel better? Well, at least we got some hits, right?
Come on. No.
And would you have felt any better if they scored a run in each the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth and come up just short in a 5-4 loss?
No. It would still be labeled a missed opportunity.
And everyone is panicking because now the momentum has shifted back in favor of Houston. But, what did you expect? A sweep? The Astros are the best team in baseball. They didn’t win 106 games for shits and giggles.
They were never going to be an easy opponent to play against.
Look, Houston took its lumps in Game 3 and rebounded in a big way to take Game 4. There’s no reason the Phillies can’t do the same.
Bryce Harper wants to flush it. Kyle Schwarber doesn’t “give a shit” about being no-hit. Topper reminded everyone that when the Phillies were no hit in a game earlier this season by the Mets, they came back and won the next day in a game, interestingly enough, where the Phillies used six pitchers, that combined to give up just one run and four hits, and were paced by homers by Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins.
It’s a best of three for the World Series. There’s no reason to bail on this team now.
Now, to a shortened Heroes and Goats:
1. CRISTIAN JAVIER
Look, we can complain about the Phillies’ inability to hit all we want, and deservedly so, but let’s not forget that this guy was as dominant as any pitcher I’ve seen in a long time.
It wasn’t just no hits and nine strikeouts through six innings, it was the most non-competitive swings of bat-on-ball by the Phillies, maybe ever. The hardest hit ball against him had an expected batting average of .320 – That was Schwarber’s ground out in the sixth. In the first five innings the hardest hit ball off of him had an expected batting average of .090 – that was Schwarber’s fly out to left field to lead off the bottom of the first.
2. DUSTY BAKER
I thought he would leave Javier in the game after the sixth. He didn’t, he got him out. By doing so, he likely makes Javier available for an inning or two of relief if the series reaches Game 7. Leaving him in, even for another inning, could have eliminated that possibility.
3. KYLE TUCKER
He just owns Aaron Nola. Plain and simple.
4. ALEX BREGMAN
He gets the big hit to blow the game open and makes a fine play at third base on the final out of the game to preserve history.
5. JEREMY PENA
He gets the hit that chases Aaron Nola and sets up the big inning for the Astros.
1. NICK CASTELLANOS, ALEC BOHM, J.T. REALMUTO, and RHYS HOSKINS
Really, I could have picked the whole lineup here. When you don’t get a hit in a World Series game as a collective, you should all share the No. 1 goat spot. But, since I have to hand out five of these… Castellanos and Bohm were both 0-3 with three strikeouts. Realmuto also struck out three times, but he did hit the ball hard his last time up, so, he gets one step up. Hoskins didn’t strike out, but he hit four weak balls in four at bats.
2. KYLE SCHWARBER, BRYCE HARPER, BRYSON STOTT, JEAN SEGURA, and BRANDON MARSH
Stott looked uncomfortable in all three at bats. With the exception of his leadoff walk, Harper was overmatched, which is rare. Marsh worked a walk but boy did he look bad swinging at a ball that bounced on a 3-2 count in his last AB. Segura made hard contact on his last at bat, just hit it right at Tucker. Schwarber actually had a few good plate appearances. He worked the count several times. Even got a ninth inning walk. But he didn’t get a hit.
3. JOSE ALVARADO
Yes, he was asked to come into the game in a very difficult spot. Bases loaded, no outs, the heart of Houston’s order at the plate. That said, his job there is to limit the damage. Hold them to one or two runs and who knows, maybe it’s a different ballgame. But plunking Yordan Alvarez with the first pitch is no bueno. Then giving up three more hits, allowing not just the inherited runners to score but two more on top of that… that IS the ballgame.
4. AARON NOLA
I’ve been a well documented Nola defender. I stand by everything I say about him as a pitcher and everything I say about those that will shape a false narrative about him because they don’t really understand the game as well as they think they do. Even last night wasn’t as bad as everyone wants to make it out to be. He allowed three singles in the fifth inning, one an infield single and two line drive singles. That’s what did him in. Now, the pitches to Jose Altuve and Pena on the last two singles were terrible. They were really poor location-wise. That can’t happen with no outs. He was likely being lifted with a runner or two on that inning either way, as Alvarado had been warming since the infield hit by Chas McCormick, so it’s interesting to see how fans would have reacted had he, say, gotten one of those guys and Alvarado only yielded one run. Would it have still been a bad performance? We’ll never know. But we do know he only threw 67 pitches, so if this series goes 7 games, it’s very likely we haven’t seen the last of Aaron Nola, and his impact on this series, for better or for worse, isn’t written in stone just yet.
5. PHILLIES FANS
I’ve been nothing but effusive about the fans and what they’ve meant to this postseason run. They’ve been amazing. Absolutely amazing. Until last night. We criticized St. Louis fans for leaving a Wild Card playoff game early, and fans were exiting the building in the seventh inning if a world series game last night with, a historic no-hitter unfolding AND/OR the home team having shown a propensity for dramatic comebacks all season long. That’s weak. Also, when things get intense and tight on the field, the fans need to carry through that. Instead, they got equally intense and tight. It felt like a regular season game last night. Fans were quiet. Too quiet. And the postgame reaction, I already dove into above. Don’t be fickle. You’re the best fans in the world. Show it. Always. Especially tonight.
PAST GAMES HEROES AND GOATS
WILD CARD ROUND
- Zack Wheeler – 6 1/3 shutout innings in his first postseason start.
- Jean Segura – Game-winning hit in wild ninth inning comeback.
- Juan Yepez – Pinch hit homer that should have won the game for the Cardinals.
- Jose Quintana – 5 1/3 shutout innings and should have had more were it not for poor management.
- Alec Bohm – Took a fastball to the shoulder in the ninth, stood right up and fired up the bench, keeping momentum going.
- Oliver Marmol – You can’t fuck up managing your pitching and bullpen more than the youngest manager in baseball did here.
- Andre Pallante – Shriveled under the pressure of pitching in high leverage situation in the playoffs.
- Jose Alvarado – As good as he’s been, gave up Yepez’s homer and nearly cost the Phillies the game.
- Ryan Helsley – Going more than one inning in the playoffs is a whole different animal, even if you can throw 105 MPH gas.
- St. Louis Fans – “Supposedly” the best in the sport, Baseball Heaven took the express cloud out of Busch before the game was over.
- Aaron Nola – 6 2/3 innings of beautifully pitched baseball, continuing to bury the naysayers.
- Seranthony Dominguez – Two huge strikeouts (Goldschmidt, Arenado) with two men on in the bottom of the eighth.
- Bryce Harper – The home run that set the table early was all Nola and his bullpen friends needed.
- Zach Eflin – Earning just his second career save (first in the playoffs) to send the Phillies to the NLDS.
- Albert Pujols – Two hits, including his last at bat, in the final game of a Hall of Fame career.
- Paul Goldschmidt – The probable NL MVP did nothing in these two games and came up small in a big spot in the eighth.
- Nolan Arenado – The probable runner-up to NL MVP and the rest of the note is the same as Goldschmidt.
- Tommy Edman – Had a chance to keep a ninth inning rally going, instead sent his team home for the winter with a lame popup.
- Brendan Donovan – 0-for-4 and 0-for-the series for the next guy the Cardinals were counting on after their two studs.
- Nick Castellanos – 0-for-4 and really looked lost at the plate again for the Phillies.
- Nick Castellanos – Atoned for his last game with three hits, three RBI and a potential game-saving diving catch in the ninth inning.
- Matt Olson – Got the Braves back into the game with the big homer in the ninth.
- Ronald Acuna Jr. – Three hits and wreaked havoc on base for Phillies pitchers the whole game.
- Alec Bohm – An RBI hit and a sac fly – and the Phillies needed both of them to win.
- Bryce Harper – Ho hum, just a three-hit game.
- Max Fried – Supposed to be the ace for the Braves, got shelled.
- William Contreras – Double play with the bases load in the bottom of the first left his team with a zero on the scoreboard.
- Connor Brogdon – lacked confidence and nearly cost the Phillies, giving up a pair of runs in the fifth.
- Austin Riley – Struck out three times and popped out – you expect more from the No. 3 hitter.
- Michael Harris – Probable NL Rookie of the Year – also took the collar.
- Kyle Wright – Pitched a masterful game for Atlanta. The best by any starter in the playoffs against the Phillies thus far.
- Matt Olson
- Austin Riley
- Travis d’Arnaud – These three guys all got hits off of Wheeler in a row to score the three runs for the Braves. Key hits all.
- A.J. Minter – Had the shutdown inning the Braves needed after they scored the three runs.
- Kyle Schwarber – Struck out three times and wasn’t heard from the entire game.
- Rhys Hoskins – Also 0-for-4. At least he didn’t strike out.
- Zack Wheeler – Was pitching brilliantly until two out in the sixth. He hit Acuna and walked Swanson then gave up those three hits.
- Alec Bohm – Empty day at the plate for him too.
- Bryson Stott – Has been so clutch for the Phillies – just not this game.
- Rhys Hoskins – The bat slam alone makes him No. 1.
- Aaron Nola – Another big game gem.
- Bryson Stott – Without his nine-pitch at bat and eventual RBI double to score the first run, Hoskins’ homer never happens.
- Phillies Fans – Could seriously be listed for every home game, but they got to Spencer Strider, and Marcel Ozuna, and Acuna…
- Rob Thomson – Despite questions about juggling his lineup, Philly Rob stuck to his guns, and his offense delivered.
- Brian Snitker – Did you really think that saying Philly was “not too hostile” an environment was smart?
- Spencer Strider – Crumbled under the pressure of Philly’s hostility.
- Marcel Ozuna – The “DUI” chants resulted in three strikeouts.
- Austin Riley – From MVP contender to almost invisible in the playoffs.
- Braves Bullpen – Couldn’t keep the score in the respectable range.
- Zack Wheeler – allowed just one hit and one walk over seven scoreless innings, striking out eight.
- Kyle Schwarber – with the longest home run ever hit in PETCO PARK (488 feet).
- Bryce Harper – a solo homer early to give the Phillies a lead they would never relinquish.
- Seranthony Dominguez
- Jose Alvarado – The two back end of the bullpen guys had two hitless innings to close out the game, with three Ks.
- Padres offense – One hit. One measly hit.
- Yu Darvish – Honestly he pitched well, but if you are going to win a showdown with Wheeler, you can’t make mistakes. Darvish made two, and that’s two too many.
- Manny Machado – O-fer. Sittin’ on that hefty salary, eh?
- Juan Soto – Wasn’t he supposed to be the kind of generational talent to make a difference in close games? 0-for-3 with 2 Ks.
- Josh Bell – Guy used to be a Phillie-killer. No more. 0-for-4 with 2 Ks.
- Brandon Drury – Dude just gives off Cody Ross vibes. And when he hits a big homer like this, it’s even worse.
- Juan Soto – That double was pure talent. It was a good pitch by Nola. To recognize it and get your hands through in time is special.
- Josh Bell – OK, maybe he still is a Phillie-killer.
- Austin Nola – Got the hit to knock his brother completely off his game.
- Rhys Hoskins – Hitting the homer late was window dressing, but proved that Suarez was susceptible to big hits. Hmmm.
- Brad Hand – He could have kept the score tied with any efficiency. He had none, and the lead got too far away from the Phillies for a comeback.
- Aaron Nola – The pitching line looks worse than the actual performance was, but you can’t blow a 4-0 lead in the playoffs. Just can’t.
- David Robertson – Giving up another run late really didn’t help.
- Bryce Harper – Hoskins homers to cut it to three then Realmuto singles. With no outs, you ground into a double play. Needed that rally.
- Blake Snell – Lucky your team came back to win, because getting behind 4-0 in the first inning isn’t the way to start a must-win playoff game.
- Jean Segura – Such a roller coaster game for the Phils’ 2B, but he came through both offensively and defensively when it mattered most. Definitely the player of the game.
- Alec Bohm – His double in the bottom of the sixth to give the Phillies an insurance run was huge.
- Kyle Schwarber – Leading off the game with a homer set the temp for what the next three games in Philly would be like.
- Seranthony Dominguez – The first six-out save by a Phillies reliever in a playoff game in 42 years (to the day). Stellar performance.
- Ranger Suarez – Under the radar performance. He allowed just two infield singles (one trickled onto the outfield grass), in five innings of work.
- Joe Musgrove – He pitched a one-hitter in an elimination game in New York. But this isn’t Citi Field, friend/
- Manny Machado – Was invisible again, and was hearing it from the fans after choosing San Diego over Philly in 2019
- Austin Nola – Was the tying run at the plate in the ninth, and whiffed. This was just a precursor, though.
- Josh Bell – Runners on first and second with one out. Bell called on to pinch hit against a pitcher he’s had great success against, and grounded into a double play.
- Juan Soto – Somehow he’s a gold glove finalist in RF. Must have left the gold one on the plane and replaced it with his cement one.
You can read heroes and goats from this game in more detail here.
You can read heroes and goats from this game in more detail here.
Heroes and Goats from Game 1 are here.
Heroes and Goats from Game 2 are here.
This one was fun. You can read it here.