Initially a duel between Valdez and Phillies starter Zack Wheeler, Game 6 turned on the sixth inning, when the starters tired and the bats caught up. Phillies’ slugger Kyle Schwarber opened the scoring — and lifted Philadelphia’s hopes — with a solo homer off Valdez. But in the bottom of the frame, the Astros responded with an avalanche.
Light-hitting Martin Maldonado crowded the plate to win first base on a hit by pitch. Shortstop Jeremy Peña cracked a single to chase Wheeler from the game, and then Alvarez unloaded on a Jose Alvarado fastball, blasting a go-ahead three-run homer with a trajectory that didn’t involve much in the way of coming down.
After falling behind 2-1 in the series, the Astros took control with a combined no-hitter in Game 4 and a tight Game 5 win. In their return to Houston, they avoided the pitfalls of their 2019 World Series loss to the Washington Nationals and closed out the Phillies.
The championship punctuates a dominant stretch for the Astros that has included six consecutive runs to at least the ALCS, and four World Series appearances. Their lone title thus far, though, was the 2017 championship sullied by the sign-stealing scandal. With draft picks stripped, leaders ousted and boos poured on at every turn, the franchise has kept winning.
Even as major stars have departed, they have found new contributors like Peña, Valdez and Cristian Javier, the breakout pitcher who started the no-hitter in Game 4. Under Dusty Baker — who earned the first championship of his 25-year managerial career — they have planted a new flag with the 2022 title, one that can't be doubted over the sign-stealing scandal.
The sign-stealing talk won't be quieted by the win. It may never be quieted at all. But a new conversation will rise alongside it: Is this Astros team a dynasty?
How'd we get here? Catch up on everything you need to know for the World Series: