HOUSTON (AP)Instant replay makes it nearly impossible for middle infielders to get away with neighborhood plays at second base anymore.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker wasn’t so sure that Phillies shortstop Edmundo Sosa stayed in contact with the bag as he caught a throw in the fifth inning during Game 2 of the World Series on Saturday night.
Sosa had to reach to take a feed from Alec Bohm, though the shortstop appeared to slide his right toe across the back of the bag. It was an unusual relay from the third baseman on the right side of the infield in a shift against left-handed slugger Yordan Alvarez, who reached on a fielder’s choice while Jose Altuve was called out at second.
Baker came out of the dugout and challenged after all six umpires got together without changing the initial out call, which stood after the replay review.
Three pitches later, Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer to make it 5-0, and the Astros held on for a 5-2 win to even the Series.
Houston became the first team to begin a World Series game with three consecutive extra-base hits.
Altuve and rookie Jeremy Pena doubled on the first two pitches from Phillies starter Zack Wheeler in the bottom of the first inning. Alvarez lofted a double off the left-field wall on an 0-1 delivery, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead in Game 2 after four pitches by Wheeler.
”Was pulling for a fourth, actually. Try to score as many runs as you can,” Baker said.
Bregman’s groundout ended the doubles streak, but he went deep in the fifth for the Astros, who have homered in all nine of their postseason games.
FACE TO FACE
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, head of the players’ union, spoke with each other on the field during batting practice along with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.
Manfred and Clark did not appear together to announce the lockout settlement in March. They chose instead to hold separate news conferences after the end of the 99-day lockout.
IN THE PAST
Young Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm got over the fear of failure long before getting to this World Series. He has come a long way since one miserable night in the field early this season.
”All that stuff kind of went out the window after that happened,” Bohm said before Game 2.
That was back in the fourth game of the season, when Bohm made a throwing error in each of the first three innings of a home game, and there was still uncertainty if the job was his. There was also the postgame apology to fans after cameras caught him deriding Philadelphia with an expletive.
The 26-year-old Bohm is now the youngest starting third baseman in a postseason for the Phillies since Willie ”Puddin’ Head” Jones in the 1950 World Series. He has doubled in both games.
Asked how he simply let things go out the window after that April 11 game, Bohm said, ”Because I messed up about as bad as you can mess up, so I’ve done it before.”
He said he realized the ball was going to be hit his way, and he was either going to make the play or not, and couldn’t be worried about if he was going to make a mistake.
”Once that kind of just subsided, I freed up and was just playing instead of trying,” said Bohm, who had 10 errors over his final 138 games during the regular season while hitting .280 with 13 homers and 72 RBIs.
”This kid has improved more in one year than any other player I’ve ever had,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. ”And it’s not just physically, you know, his footwork, his glove work, his throwing action, his throwing accuracy. But it’s mentally and emotionally. If he makes a mistake now, he moves on. Where before it might take two or three days to come out of it.”
Houston reliever Hector Neris knows the Philadelphia Phillies perhaps better than anyone on the Astros roster.
The right-hander spent his entire career in Philadelphia before joining the Astros this season. He played eight big league seasons for the Phillies after signing with them as an amateur in 2010.
”I spent 12 years for this team, my whole career,” he said. ”I (grew) up on this team. And then my first year in a different uniform and come to think about the World Series with the team I was supposed to face, this team, you know, it’s fun for me and pushes me forward to be good and do what I can do.”
Neris got the win in his playoff debut when Houston beat Seattle in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, and is 2-0 in six relief appearances this postseason. He also picked up the win in Game 4 of the ALCS that completed a sweep of the Yankees.
In Game 1 against his former team, Neris continued his strong postseason by striking out Nick Castellanos with the bases loaded for the final out of the seventh inning.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken contributed to this report.
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