'Tonight was my turn': Realmuto the latest Phils hero
HOUSTON -- J.T. Realmuto lived this moment thousands of times in his backyard as a kid.
Bases loaded, two outs, 3-2 count, Wiffle ball bat in his hands.
But what happened Friday night in Game 1 of the World Series was real. It was, wasn’t it? Realmuto hit a game-tying two-run double in the fifth inning and a game-winning home run in the 10th to beat the Astros at Minute Maid Park, 6-5. It was only the sixth time in World Series history that a team overcame a five-run deficit to win. It was the first time it happened since the Angels beat Dusty Baker’s Giants in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.
“I guess tonight was my turn,” Realmuto said. “It’s so cool to see the way this team is playing. It’s been a different hero every single night. It's been that way all postseason long. Every hitter in our lineup has had their moment where they have come through huge for the team.”
Realmuto is the first catcher to hit an extra-inning home run in the World Series since Carlton Fisk’s walk-off in Game 6 in 1975.
You remember that one.
It’s only one of the most famous home runs in baseball history.
“Just ecstatic to put a good swing on that pitch, be able to give our team the lead,” Realmuto said. “We did such a good job fighting back there.”
Realmuto has been grinding for months to get to that moment. He has caught 1,248 2/3 innings this year, including the postseason, a staggering 232 innings more than any other catcher in baseball.
Essentially, he has caught 25 more games than anybody else.
“I’m running on so much adrenaline that I feel pretty great every night,” Realmuto said. “I’m honestly not sure how my body is going to respond until the season is over.”
“You can’t say enough about what the guy brings to the team,” Kyle Schwarber said. “We want to keep winning, but if I could say a guy that should get some MVP votes, he’d be one guy on my list.”
Kyle Tucker hit a couple of home runs to stake Houston to a 5-0 lead in the third. But the Phillies came back, which is becoming their postseason calling card. Think back to Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series in St. Louis, when they trailed, 2-0, in the ninth and won, 6-3. Think back to Game 4 of the NL Championship Series against San Diego, when they trailed, 4-0, before they even hit in the first and won, 10-6. Think back to Game 5 of the NLCS, when they trailed, 3-2, in the eighth and won, 4-3.
They engineered this comeback against expected Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, who retired the first 10 batters he faced.
“We’re not looking at numbers at that point,” Alec Bohm said. “We’re not playing the guy out there. We’re playing the game. If we were sitting there, ‘Oh, Verlander is on the mound, we don’t have a chance,’ why are we even here?”
The Phillies had a runner on first and one out in the fourth when Realmuto hit a line drive to Verlander. Hoskins was on the move. If Verlander catches the ball, he makes an easy throw to first for a double play and the inning is over.
But Verlander dropped it. Hoskins reached second.
“No doubt,” Hoskins said. “I was out. I was out.”
Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and Bohm each got hits as the Phillies cut the Astros’ lead to 5-3. Brandon Marsh doubled and Schwarber walked to start the fifth. Realmuto crushed an 0-1 curveball off the left-center-field wall for a double. Both runners scored to tie the game.
“That was probably the most emotion I've shown on a baseball field in a long time,” Realmuto said. “It's honestly not something that I plan or that I even expected to do. But there's just so much emotion in these games. We're having so much fun together that we can feel the comeback building when we score a run, score two runs. And in the dugout, we're talking, like, ‘Guys, we got this. Just keep putting good at-bats, keep putting good at-bats.’
“Once I hit that double and scored the tying run, there was just so much emotion it was just hard for me to keep it in.”
Then Realmuto ripped a 3-2 fastball from Luis Garcia in the 10th. The ball sailed toward the right-field stands.
Did it have enough?
“I thought I got enough of it, but I kind of had flashbacks of the play that Tucker made on [Aaron] Judge's ball that last series,” Realmuto said. “Once I saw him running back to the wall, I was thinking in my head, ‘Oh, please just don't catch it, just don't catch it.’ I knew it was going to be close.”
Gone, just like those backyard World Series moments as a kid.
“He hit a good pitch, a fastball away in the short porch,” Baker said.