HOUSTON — JT Realmuto waited nine years and 1,005 regular season games to play in his first World Series game. And when it was over, after he had had one of the best World Series games by a catcher, Realmuto couldn’t participate in the postgame spread.
“I don’t think I can chew,” says Realmuto. “My jaw really hurts. But it’s fine. As long as it’s not my head, I’m good.
in the sixth inning of Game 1 of the World Series on Friday Phillies The catcher took a foul ball out of his mask that left him reeling as if he had been hit by a violent punch.
“Did it feel as bad as it looked?” He repeats a question. “I’m not going to lie. Yeah. It was pretty bad.”
That virtual haymaker will be just a footnote when history remembers what Realmuto did in Game 1. But the footnote will warrant your attention, for Realmuto’s value and valor cannot be fully appreciated without it.
Realmotto became the first catcher since Carlton Fisk in 1975 to hit an extra-inning home run in a World Series game, which the Phillies surprisingly won 6-5. Astros Teams understand what happened before that swing: After catching all 1,690 pitches Philadelphia pitchers have thrown this postseason, including 143 in nine innings in Game 1, after taking a foul ball off the jaw, Houston S Justin After tying the game with two runs on the ball. In the fifth inning, Verlander, after going 1-and-2 in the 10th inning, got behind Luis Garcia, a pitcher he had never seen before, with two cutters down and away to complete the count. After, after suffocation. Beat to go into full two-strike mode…that’s when Realmoto went all Carlton Fisk on the Astros.
“He’s the best catcher in baseball,” pitching coach Caleb Cotham said. “His performance is elite.” This is a given. But what he doesn’t get enough credit for is the volume of his work. He does it all. He’s a rock for every pitcher on this staff.”
Fisk’s home run set the tone. A “Hallelujah” chorus on the Fenway Park organ and church bells ringing throughout New England in late-night celebration. Realmuto’s homer should ring a loud alarm in the Astros’ heads. Houston lost a game in which Verlander had a 5-0 lead. His bullpen was kicked out by the Philadelphia bullpen.
“They counted us out and thought they had won the game,” says one Philly. “But if they’re paying attention, they know this team is special. And if they’re not, well, we can shock the world.
Every night, fate seems to wink at the Phillies: hitting the bases, the sun beating down on the outfielders’ eyes, opposing managers not using their best weapons in big spots, Alec Boehm and Nick Castellanos suddenly becoming Gold Gloves. Changing to … and line drives that don’t stick in the pitcher’s glove. Realmotto hit a liner into Verlander’s glove in the fourth in what should have been an easy inning-ending double play, as the runner on first, Rhys Hoskins, was too far off the bag.
But the ball didn’t hit Verlander’s glove. It rolled out. He recovered to get Realmotto to first base, but still had a pulse in the inning. Three batters later—single, single, double; As all the breaking pitches Verlander curiously abandoned his fastball — the Phillies got back into the game at 5-3 instead of down 5-0. Realmotto led off the next inning with a double.
So far, after going 10-2 this postseason against teams that have won 93, 101, 89 and 106 games, the Phillies believe they are invincible. They are the most dangerous team of all time with 87 wins. However, more than fate, is taking them. The Phillies are stocked with players ages 24-32—a career sweet spot, especially when you’ve never won anything. Only four players on their 26-man roster had previously played in a World Series. They are motivated by a common goal: to win. Many have waited long for the opportunity. As second baseman Jean Segura said, “I’m at a point in my career where I feel like I’ve got everything I want. Financially, I’m good. I just want to win.” “
It is this commonality that makes Philadelphia so dangerous. And no one articulates the will of this team better than Realmuto, who had never played on a winning team until last year.
“He deserves the MVP votes,” left fielder Kyle Schwarber said. “He’s done it all for us this year.”
World Series Game 1 was Realmotto’s 151st game of the year, his 145th behind the plate.
“My body feels better now than it has all year,” he says. “I’ve never felt so good at the end of a season. I’ve got a good program to take care of my body. I’ve always changed things and added things every year, but this program has I will stick with it.”
Realmotto’s program begins with massaging his legs every day after pre-game batting practice. After sports, he does strength training. He’ll do three exercises — all three different, depending on whether it’s a lower- or upper-body day.
“I would literally take off my jersey and go straight to the exercise room,” he says. “In the past, I would wait until I had a day off, then dive into a full workout. But when you do that, you lose the idea of a full off day to recover. By doing three exercises — no more, no less — I’m exercising while my body is still warm and I’m not hitting my body the way a full workout might.
As the Astros can attest, it’s working. After posting a .949 OPS in the second half, he is putting up an .842 OPS in the postseason. In Game 1 he joined a very short but distinguished group of catchers who reached base three times in a World Series game with three RBI and six total bases: Gary Carter, Tim McCarver, Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella. No one has done it from the third spot in the lineup, like Realmuto did.
After what was previously known as The Realmuto Game, the Phillies dominated the series and would send their best pitcher, Zack Wheeler, to the mound in Game 2 with two games to go. Will not be able to get the upper hand. Halloween night at the bank. Terrible things for Houston.
Of course, Realmuto will be behind the plate, not only taking foul balls to the jaw but guiding his pitchers through the game. Wheeler wants little scouting information, even when it comes to the World Series and the Astros, a team he’s never faced before. He just wants basic information about which Houston hitters swing early in the count and which pitches can create swings for chasing hitters.
“I don’t want a lot of information,” Wheeler says. “I trust JT to be very good at gameplanning and reading swings. I’ve always relied heavily on my catcher, but especially with JT.
The Astros, 2007 The Rockies And 2014 The Royals entered their World Series undefeated, the only teams to do so in the Wild Card era. All lose Game 1. The Rockies and Royals suffered series losses as well as injuries. Now Houston knows the Phillies can take a punch, as Realmotto’s iron jaw proved. They should also know that with their integral catcher, the Phillies are dangerous.
Long after the game, and after Realmotto recalled his night for several interviews and press conferences, his jaw was still smarting. But some things don’t change. When asked if he attended his three daily postgame workouts, Realmotto smiles and says, “Oh, yeah. I finished my workout before I talked to you guys.”
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