This time there would be no two losses at home. Not even one.
That was rectified Saturday, punctuated by a thunderous three-run home run in the sixth inning by Yordan Alvarez. It cleared the batter’s eye in dead center. It traveled 450 feet and was retrieved by a fan who never dreamed he would take home a World Series baseball.
Only Freddie Freeman, when he played for the Atlanta Braves, ever rocketed one over the black batter’s eye.
“My feeling now is that they can quit talking about it,” Baker told Sirius radio after the game, referring to his failure to win a World Series. “Now we can go on to the next one.
“I knew it was going to happen sooner or later and when you have good players with great attitude, guys who are together. . .hey, man, it’s gonna happen. And it happened.”
It happened with the Astros going 11-2 in the post-season with timely hitting, outstanding pitching and lockdown defense.
Baker’s players surrounded him and crushed him with bear hugs as he emerged from the dugout after the last out.
“Maybe it’s because I give them love and they give me love and respect back and they give it back to me,” he said.
Houston starter Framber Valdez silenced the Phillies on one run and two hits over six innings with nine strikeouts that included five straight at one point.
After Valdez did his stellar duty, the nearly unhittable Astros bullpen took it from there.
For five innings, Philadelphia starter Zach Wheeler matched Valdez and it was 0-0 entering the sixth.
Middletown native Kyle Schwarber did what Schwarber does best leading off the sixth. He drove a 2-and-2 Valdez sinker into the right field seats.
It was Schwarber’s third home run in the last four games, his sixth in 11 games, and the 52nd time he homered this season.
Then the Astros came to bat.
Martin Maldonado, batting ninth, crowded the plate and it worked. Wheeler hit him with a pitch. The Phillies protested that Maldonado didn’t attempt to avoid the pitch, but a replay/review upheld the hit by pitch.
Jose Altuve grounded into a fielder’s choice. Rookie Jeremy Pena, who hit safely in all six games, singled to left center, sending Altuve to third.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson then made a fatal mistake. He removed Wheeler and replaced him with Jose Alvarado.
Alvarez reversed a 99 miles an hour two-seam fastball into the far beyond, his third game-winning home run in the post-season.
The Astros added a fourth run in the inning when Alvarado walked Alex Bregman on a full count and wild pitched him to second. With two outs, Seranthony Dominguez replaced Alvarado and Christian Vazquez singled to make it 4-1.
Shortstop Pena received the Most Valuable Player, the first rookie position player to win it.
Hector Neris replaced Valdez and pitched a spotless seventh, with two strikeouts. Bryan Abreu pitched a perfect eighth with a strikeout.
Closer Ryan Pressly gave up a one-out single in the ninth to J.T. Realmuto, but former Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos made the final out, a pop foul to right field.
Pressly is 11 for 11 in post-season save situations. During the postseason, the Astros bullpen gave up only five runs in 54 2/3 innings, an 0.82 earned run average.
The Neris, Abreu, Pressly trio is similar to the Nasty Boys with the 1990 Cincinnati Reds — Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble and Randy Myers. They compiled an 0.88 ERA during the 1990 post-season.