Framber Valdez changed gloves and spikes midway through the game. He repeatedly held hands.
By the seventh inning, as he jumped out of the mound into loud cheers, it was clear that the Dominican did not let any nervousness deter him from claiming his World Series title.
Valdez held a five-run lead after a strong first-innings drive by Houston, while Alex Bregman made a homerade, and the Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on Saturday to tie the Fall Classic with one win per side .
“It was a really good game for the fans, for our team and for me too,” Valdez said. “I really inspired.”
As in Game 1, the Astros took a 5-0 lead. Unlike Justin Verlander the night before, Valdez was careful not to ruin it.
“His curveball tonight was perfect,” said Phillies star Bryce Harper, who went 0-4. “It was big and in tune.”
The Dominican thus recovered from a somewhat poor start at last year’s Fall Classic, and pitched until the seventh inning without allowing a run. The bullpen avoided a few jams to retain the win.
“Frember did a great job,” said Venezuela’s Jose Altuve, who came out of a slump in which he went 4-37 in the post season by getting three hits. “He just had an amazing performance both in and in our bullpen.”
For Houston, Altuve, Jeremy Pea and Jordan Alvarez contributed in the doubles, which took a two-run lead from Jack Wheeler on just four pitches. An error from Panamanian shortstop Edmondo Sosa allowed another run in the first innings, and Bregman added a two-run homer in the fifth.
Valdez tried to dispel any doubts about the way his hands rubbed together.
“No one should take it as bad. I do it openly,” he said. “It’s something I do. I do it in play. Maybe it distracts the hitter from what I’m doing a little bit. Maybe he looks at me, different things.” I don’t think too much about the pitch I’m going to throw. I’ve been doing it all season long.”
Valdez started the game wearing a natural leather-colored glove, along with orange and yellow stripes. Before the second innings, he wore gloves and dark spikes.
“Generally I have different spikes when I warm up and when I play. Today I decided to start the game with the guys I warm up”, he explained. “I played a long innings there and thought, ‘I’m going to change everything.’ I changed gloves, belt, spikes. Those are things we Dominicans do, we have some instincts to do.
A day after rallying down 5-0 for a 5-4 win in 10 innings, Philadelphia sought a similar response.
The Phillies went down to four when Kyle Schwarber blasted into right field with a runner up eighth from Rafael Monteiro. Originally, James Hoe, the umpire on the right field line, hit a home run.
From the opening, his colleague Tripp Gibson indicated that there should be a convention. Subsequently, the original decision was reversed, when it was determined that the ball had gone towards the foul pole.
Schwarber, who led the NL in homers this season, again hit another long drive, caught inside the right field fence.
Ryan Pressley ended the combined six-hit effort, despite giving up a run on an error by Cuban first baseman Yuli Guriel.
After sharing honors in Houston, the Astros and Phillies resumed the series on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, which will host the October Classic game for the first time since 2009.
To the Phillies, Jean Segura 3-1 with an RBI. Panamanian Sosa 2-0.
Venezuela’s Jose Altuve scored a run for the Astros, 4-3. Dominican Jeremy Pea scored a run and with an RBI, 4-1. Cubans’ Yordan Alvarez scored two runs at 3-1 and an RBI, Guriel 4-0, Aldamis Diaz 3-0. Puerto Rican Martin Maldonado 3-0.