Clutch Home Run by former Greensboro Grasshopper J.T. Realmuto sends Philadelphia Phillies to Game One Win in World Series

The key clutch hit came off of the bat of J.T. Realmuto, in the top of the 10th inning, and Realmuto’s home run gave the Philadelphia Phillies, a one-game-to-none lead in the Best-of-Seven World Series, with Game Two coming up tonight/Saturday night in Houston…J.T. Realmuto, the catcher for the 2011 South Atlantic Champions, the Greensboro Grasshoppers…A huge homer, for the young man from Oklahoma…

from Anthony Castrovince at…..
HOUSTON — Game 1’s would-be hero drifted back and leapt in pursuit of the fly ball hurtling over the right-field wall. But there was no catching this blast off the bat of J.T. Realmuto. And on this night, there was no stopping the Fightin’ Phils.

Realmuto’s go-ahead leadoff homer in the top of the 10th, just over the outstretched glove of Kyle Tucker, gave a Phillies team that squeaked into the playoffs with the National League’s sixth seed their wildest, most resilient win yet. In a 6-5 triumph Friday night at Minute Maid Park, the Phils not only became the first team to beat the Astros in this postseason, but also became the first World Series team in 20 years to win a game it had trailed by five runs.

“That,” Realmuto said, “is a Phillies win right there.”

It was a game the Astros had led, 5-0, after three innings. A game that had seemed like it would be best remembered for Tucker’s two early home runs off Aaron Nola.

But as we’ve seen all postseason — and during a regular season in which they started 21-29 and sacked their skipper — the Phillies don’t go gently into that good night. They staged a rally off future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, aggressively deployed their best bullpen weapons and rode two huge hits from Realmuto to an early edge in this Fall Classic.

In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams winning Game 1 have gone on to win 121 of 187 times (65 percent). In series with the current 2-3-2 format, teams grabbing a 1-0 lead on the road have then won 39 of 69 times (57 percent), including the Phillies’ Game 1 victory over the Padres in the NL Championship Series.

The last team to win a World Series game it had trailed by five runs? The 2002 Angels in Game 6 … against Dusty Baker’s Giants.

So Baker knows too well the pain of this type of defeat, and the Astros know too well how it feels to let home-field advantage slip away in Game 1 of the World Series. It happened to them in 2019 against the Nationals and in ’21 against the Braves.

We shall see if this loss looms as large in this year’s Series as those did. But whether or not it lingers, the bitterness of this defeat was palpable, given the way this game began.

“They just took it from us tonight,” Baker said.

Minute Maid Park had been loud and proud when Tucker’s Ted Williams swing had produced a solo shot in the second on a Nola changeup and a three-run shot in the third on a sinker. This was a coming-out party for one of the more underrated Astros, a 25-year-old right fielder who can influence the outcome with his bat, glove and legs.

“Kyle, he’s been fantastic for us all year,” Verlander said. “Should probably win a Silver Slugger. One of the best hitters in baseball. So I don’t think anybody’s surprised in our locker room.”