This time, a 5-0 lead was more than enough for the Houston Astros.
A day after allowing the Philadelphia Phillies to come back to win 6-5 in extra innings, the Astros took care of business in Game 2, winning 5-2. Framber Valdez went 6.1 innings, giving up one run and striking out nine, while Houston led off the game with three straight extra-base hits, a first in World Series history. An Alex Bregman two-run home run added some insurance, but Houston was in control of this game from the first pitch.
Here are the best sights and sounds from Game 2 of what is now a tied 2022 World Series.
Game 2 takeaways
We didn't get the drama of Game 1, as Houston's 5-2 victory was an archetypal Astros win for 2022. Valdez was terrific on the mound for 6.1 innings, the top of the lineup did all the damage and the bullpen closed it out. This is how the Astros won 106 games in 2022 and why they are now 8-1 this postseason.
The game was really over after just four pitches, when Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez each doubled off Zack Wheeler for a quick 2-0 lead, with Alvarez later scoring on an error to make it 3-0. Altuve broke out of his postseason slump with three hits, and Bregman added a two-run home run, but Valdez took home star of the night honors. As is usually the case, it was impossible to get the ball up in the air against him. He got 19 outs: nine on strikeouts, nine on grounders and one on Bryce Harper's line out to left field in the first inning. Two double plays helped him get out of a couple small jams.
The Phillies had their best opportunity for a big inning in the eighth off reliever Rafael Montero when Kyle Schwarber just missed a two-run home run ... twice. First, he hit a long foul ball that was originally ruled a home run before the umpires met and correctly called it a foul ball. Then he flew out to Kyle Tucker in front of the wall in right field. Harper would come up later in the inning with two runners on, but popped out to shallow right-center, with shortstop Pena hauling in the catch in a near collision with Tucker.
It's certainly a little concerning to the Phillies that both Aaron Nola and Wheeler have been hit hard in their starts. The path to a World Series title for the Phillies certainly feels like it rides heavily on those pitchers delivering great outings and that hasn't happened, with only Game 1's historic five-run comeback at least giving them a split in these first two games.
One area of interest: Dusty Baker certainly likes to leave his starters in the game. Valdez had thrown 94 pitches through six when he came back out for the seventh. Granted, it was 5-0 at the time, but Baker still left him in after Nick Castellanos' leadoff double. Given that Houston's bullpen has allowed just four earned runs in 40.2 innings in the postseason with just 19 hits allowed, it's something to monitor the rest of the series. -- David Schoenfield
Bregman goes yard
Alex Bregman gives the Astros another 5-0 lead with a two-run homer in the fifth, off a Zack Wheeler slider. Wheeler had been terrific through his first four postseason starts with a 1.78 ERA, but hasn't had the same zip on his fastball and has resorted to throwing more offspeed stuff than normal. His fastball has averaged 94.2 mph -- this from a guy who maxed out at 99 against the Padres in his last outing. He started losing some velocity after a couple innings in that game, however, which is one reason the Phillies gave him an extra day of rest by starting Aaron Nola over Wheeler in Game 1. It's possible the long postseason full of high-stress innings is starting to take its toll on Wheeler. As for Bregman, you might remember he struggled last postseason when he played through a hand injury and hit .217 with one home run in 16 games (and went 2-for-21 in the World Series). This was his third home run of the 2022 postseason. -- Schoenfield
The Wheels on the train go round and round. pic.twitter.com/VOuGo1wYsN— Houston Astros (@astros) October 30, 2022
Valdez is dealing
Framber Valdez had a World Series to forget last season: Two starts, just 4.2 innings, 10 total runs and two home runs allowed each game -- and this is a pitcher who doesn't allow many home runs. Staked to an early lead in Game 2, we're seeing the guy who won 17 games this season with a 2.82 ERA and led the American League in innings pitched. He just mowed down the 4-5-6 hitters in the Philadelphia lineup, striking out Bryce Harper on a curveball, getting Nick Castellanos on a slow grounder to third and striking out Alec Bohm looking on a 97-mph sinker at the knees. No, it's not fair: Valdez has one of the best curveballs in the game, a cutter with ridiculous movement ... oh, and he can dial it up to 97. Justin Verlander tired in the middle innings in Game 1, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen to Valdez. -- Schoenfield
Houston opens the scoring
Jose Altuve had been a miserable 4-for-37 in the postseason, but he jumped all over Zack Wheeler's first pitch, a 96.4-mph fastball, for a leadoff double into left field -- and he smoked it at 103.8 mph. Jeremy Pena then drilled Wheeler's next pitch, a curveball, into the left-field corner for an RBI double, his eighth extra-base hit of the postseason. Two pitches later, Yordan Alvarez lofted a flyball off the Crawford Boxes for another double. Four pitches, three doubles and a 2-0 lead. It's the first time a team has started a World Series game with three straight extra base hits.
The Astros then stole a third run thanks to some shoddy Phillies defense. Alvarez aggressively tagged up on a routine flyball to center fielder Matt Vierling -- who says the big man can't run? -- and then scored when Rhys Hoskins was unable to scoop shortstop Edmundo Sosa's throw in the dirt with two outs. All postseason, we've been waiting for the Phillies' defense to hurt them, and they made three bad plays in one inning -- a poor throw from Vierling, a poor throw from Sosa and a poor scoop from Hoskins. Astros up 3-0. Sound familiar? -- Schoenfield
Don't mess with Texas. pic.twitter.com/RzQzFXluTn— Houston Astros (@astros) October 30, 2022
Triple double. pic.twitter.com/PPzvZmMsUA— Houston Astros (@astros) October 30, 2022
Bounce back. pic.twitter.com/jaMmaiV1m0— Houston Astros (@astros) October 29, 2022