No-Hitter! Cristian Javier And Four Astros Relievers Stymie Phillies In Fourth Game Of World Series

If World Series history serves as an accurate barometer, the only sure thing is to expect the unexpected.

Unheralded Houston right-hander Cristian Javier underlined that point in Philadelphia Wednesday night by pitching the first six innings of a combined no-hitter.

It was not only the second hitless gem in World Series history but also the second time this season that Javier had been at the front end of a combined no-hitter. He had worked the first seven frames of a no-hit game at Yankee Stadium on June 25.

Proving that each game turns primarily on the performance of the starting pitcher, Javier blanked the Phils one night after they pounded five home runs – a World Series record – against Astros starter Lance McCullers, Jr.

The 5-0 win knotted the World Series at two games apiece and guaranteed it would return to Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Javier fanned nine and allowing only two walks before Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly preserved the historic effort with a hitless inning apiece.

He threw 97 pitches – the exact same number thrown by Don Larsen in his perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers on Oct. 8, 1956.

The only other no-hitter in post-season play had been authored by Hall of Famer Roy Halladay, who blanked the Cincinnati Reds for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in the opener of the 2010 National League Division Series.

On a staff that also featured starters Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy, and McCullers, Jr., Javier was almost an afterthought. Until now.

“It’s funny, my parents told me I was going to throw a no-hitter,” said the 25-year-old Dominian through an interpreter, “and, thanks to God, I was able to accomplish that.

“We told ourselves that we would come in today to win.”

The 6-1, 213-pound right-hander has become one of the biggest bargains in baseball. Not even a starter when the 2022 campaign opened, he more than justified his $749,000 salary – barely above the minimum – with an 11-9 record, 2.54 earned run average, and a league-best .170 batting average by opponents.

He averaged 11.74 strikeouts per inning, second among starters to Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels. When he fanned a career-best 14 men in seven innings against the Angels July 1, it was the most strikeouts by an Astros pitcher since Gerrit Cole also fanned that many on Sept. 24, 2019.

Regular turns in the rotation worked wonders for Javier, who started 25 times after five early-season relief appearances. He did not yield a run over his final four starts (23 innings), posting a 1.08 ERA over his last six turns.

It was only a year ago that the Astros almost finished on the wrong end of a combined World Series no-hitter by the Atlanta Braves quartet of Ian Anderson, A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, and Tyler Matzek.

The Braves, who went on to win the 2021 world championship in six games, had also flirted with World Series history in 1995, when Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers combined for a 1-0 one-hitter in the Game 6 finale against the Cleveland Indians.

Before Javier’s Game 4 gem, the Phillies had won all six of their postseason home games after reaching the playoffs as the sixth seed in the playoffs. In fact, they went only 11-14 in September and 3-3 in October before igniting the gas as the pressure intensified.

Philadelphia has not had a hit for 11 consecutive innings, tying a record for futility first set by the 1939 Yankees, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.