AP Photo/Matt Slocum
The Houston Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in Game 5 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday to take a 3-2 series lead with the championship set to shift back to Minute Maid Park on Saturday.
Houston has the opportunity to win its first title since 2017 in Saturday’s Game 6, and it’s all thanks to a combination of Justin Verlander and rookie Jeremy Peña.
Verlander tossed five innings in Thursday’s win before being replaced by reliever Hector Neris. He allowed just one run on four hits and struck out six before exiting. The only run he allowed came on a solo shot from Kyle Schwarber in the first inning.
While Verlander has now allowed the most home runs in World Series history, he also got his first World Series victory. The veteran came up huge when it mattered most, and he’s now being praised on Twitter for his efforts:
Bill Plunkett @billplunkettocr9 career World Series starts – this is the first time Justin Verlander left the game with his team leading
Brian McTaggart @brianmctaggartAfter giving up a leadoff homer to Schwarber, Verlander holds the Phillies right there, allowing one run in five innings (assuming he’s done). It was tenuous at times, but he’s in line to get his first World Series win if the bullpen can hold a 2-1 lead.
Ben Verlander @BenVerlanderJustin is done for the night.
What. An. Outing. 👏👏👏
5ip / 1er / 6k
Adam Schein @AdamScheinPhillies let Verlander off the hook early. And wow has he been dominant since.
John McClain @McClain_on_NFLVerlander gets through 5 innings with a 2-1 lead. A terrific performance after the home run by Schwarber. If the bullpen can keep this lead, Verlander will get his first World Series victory in what could be his last game with the Astros. @gallerysports
Greg Rajan @GregRajanCrazy to call this a legacy game for a slam-dunk Hall of Famer like Justin Verlander, but that’s the vibe this night had. He battled, give him credit. #Astros #WorldSeries
RJ Ochoa @rjochoaHuge thank you to Justin Verlander.
Five solid – albeit very stressful – innings.
Time to let the bullpen go to work.
Peña was also praised by Twitter after he finished with three hits and two RBI in four at-bats. He drove in the team’s first run of the game in the first inning and hit a go-ahead solo home run in the fourth inning to put Houston up 2-1.
Jeff Passan @JeffPassanJeremy Peña has the poise of a guy who’s been doing this for a decade and he’s still a rookie. His home run chases Noah Syndergaard and gives Houston a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning.
Ari Alexander @AriA1exanderJeremy Pena is 3-4 tonight with both of the Astros RBIs, and his OPS has climbed over 1.000 this postseason.
He’s been consistently the Astros best hitter this whole postseason run.
Also, he’s a rookie.
Michael Connor @MC790Jeremy Peña is built for this.
Shea Serrano @SheaSerranojeremy pena really is that dude
Anthony Romano @ARomanoWDBJIf you could craft the perfect postseason ballplayer in a lab, you’d end up with something resembling what Jeremy Peña has been this month. Unreal how clutch and poised he has stayed in his first dance.
Joe Nieves @joepnieves#JeremyPena is a superstar. #MLB #WorldSeries @astros
Ryan Finkelstein @FinkelsteinRyanIs Jeremy Peña going to win World Series MVP too?
Brian McTaggart @brianmctaggartJeremy Peña. Mr. November.
Aram Leighton @AramLeighton8Jeremy Peña already carries himself like a veteran. He’s built for this.
If you ever wonder why makeup is referred to so much in scouting reports, Peña is yet another example why.
Peña has been one of Houston’s best players throughout the postseason, and they’ll need him to continue playing his best in Game 6 if the Astros wan’t to claim the World Series title.
As for Verlander, his postseason performance is likely finished, but he etched his name into the history books yet again, and if the Astros go on to win the championship on Saturday, his Game 5 outing will be looked at with even more praise.