PHILADELPHIA – The Yankees can take solace. It was not just them.
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Christian Xavier does not discriminate. At some point in 2022, they basically stopped allowing hits. This was not exclusive to Aaron Judge & Company.
Javier has a fastball that is hardly surprising in velocity. But it is brilliant because it is an illusion. He slings it from a low three-quarter arm slot with lots of backspin, giving the optical impression that it’s only going up because it’s not going down by obeying the basic laws of gravity. The Phillies were really strong against fastball in the zone this season. Not this version. You can’t hit what you can’t see.
His catcher, Christian Vazquez, called Xavier’s fastball “the best pitch in baseball”. What would be the argument against it after World Series Game 4? After the Phillies of Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber, the judges were as helpless as the Yankees of Anthony Rizzo. The Phillies, in fact, went out of control this World Series and were backed by a joyous home crowd to be on the wrong end of history and booed. The mood at Citizens Bank Ballpark changed from a sea of red to watching us in horror in 24 hours.
Like he did against the Yankees on June 25, Javier did the heavy lifting in a tag-team no-hitter. However, it is certainly not June 25 and the 71st game of the regular season. This was just the second time a team was held in a World Series competition without a hit. The second was Don Larson’s perfecto in Game 5 for the Yankees against the Dodgers in 1956.
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“I don’t really [bleep]Schwarber said about being part of history. He echoed the Phillies theme – one game, one loss, the 118th World Series after the Astros’ 5–0 win with the teams tied in two games. Nick Castellanos referred to United being a no-hit by the Mets in late April and recovering all the way up to this moment.
But, of course, it wasn’t just another day in the yard. It was a lot – and too little. Larsen threw a perfect game of his own. Roy Halladay threw the only other no-hitter in postseason history – for the Phillies in the 2010 Division Series against the Dusty Bakers Reds. Now, the Astros manager, Baker, saw Xavier on 97 pitches after six innings. He had a career-high 115 against the Yankees in June’s no-hitter.
Baker said he thought about Xavier’s “health and career” about history. It wasn’t 1956, it wasn’t even 2010. Baker summed it up this way: “It’s baseball in 2022.”
really. That it was in Philly rather than Houston and that it wasn’t a single feat that robbed some of the atmosphere and meaning. But Javier’s talent did not diminish. He went to Harper in second and No. 9 hitter Brandon Marsh on four pitches in third. It looked like he would lock her inside. He retired from there 11 in a row – on five straight strikeouts at a time. The Phillies came closest to the hit, with a Schwarber grounder just foul in the third inning. He hit out instead. The Phillies managed to outfield only one ball against Xavier.
Brian Abreu, Rafael Monteiro and Ryan Pressley finished and the question immediately became how much Javier could deliver on less rest in Game 7, if necessary. Baker grudgingly admitted that his mind had already wandered there and thought of two or three frames. If everything is at stake, how can you not use the hardest-to-hit pitcher to potentially complete an underdog rise.
Eventually, Javier signed with baseball promises later than most Dominican youths, after moving from an outfielder to a pitcher and just before his 18th birthday and for only $10,000. He graduated in ace from Afterthought. Wright, 25, scored 148/₃ this year and his .170 batting average was the best for anyone who has bowled at least 125 innings.
The Yankees faced him three times, including in the ALCS in 2022, and managed to score three hits and one run in 17/ innings. Since September 14, he has started six times and has scored at least five shutout innings with two or fewer hits in each – the opposing hitters are 8-for-117 against him in 38 innings (.068).
Javier was tasked with bringing the Astros back in the series and countering a wave raised by a crowd of 45,693 on Wednesday that also included Bruce Springsteen. Javier was clearly The Boss. He did so by throwing his four-seam fastball on 70 of 97 pitches. His average was 93.8 mph. The postseason fastball average was 95.3 to start Game 4. But Schwarber noted “its expanse and ride”. Harper his “spin rate.” With Xavier, it’s not as fast as deception. Now you see it, now you don’t. He is an illusion.
And on Wednesday night, that was definitely magic.