Facing a 2-1 World Series deficit, the Houston Astros needed to come close to perfection in Wednesday's Game 4 if they hoped to avoid being pushed to the brink of elimination. Starting pitcher Cristian Javier and the team's bullpen did just that.
The 25-year-old right-hander threw six no-hit innings with nine strikeouts and two walks to help lead the Astros to a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies to tie the series at 2-2.
A trio of relievers completed the combined no-hitter for Houston, the second no-hitter in World Series history, joining Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game.
Javier is the first pitcher in MLB history ever to pitch five or more hitless innings while recording nine strikeouts in a World Series game, per the FOX telecast (h/t Sporting News MLB). He's also the first pitcher to carry a no-hit bid through six innings of a World Series game since 1969, according to MLB's Sarah Langs.
Houston reliever Bryan Abreu continued the bid by striking out the side in the seventh, and Rafael Montero followed with a clean eighth inning. Ryan Pressly allowed a walk in the ninth but managed to close things out.
A performance like this was exactly what the Astros needed after Lance McCullers Jr. surrendered five home runs in a 7-0 loss in Game 3 on Tuesday. Javier's dominance paved the way for the Houston hitters to awaken at the plate.
MLB Twitter had no choice but to praise Javier for his historic outing on Wednesday night:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Astros are the first team in MLB history to throw a combined no-hitter in a postseason game.<br><br>Cristian Javier also started Houston's combined no-hitter on June 25th against the Yankees.<br><br>No pitcher had started multiple combined no-hitters in their career... until tonight. <a href="https://t.co/xMKIa8CmGd">pic.twitter.com/xMKIa8CmGd</a>
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
Cristian Javier received a $10,000 signing bonus to turn pro, as the great <a href="https://twitter.com/TMacPhils?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TMacPhils</a> noted on the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Phillies?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Phillies</a> radio broadcast. <br><br>Important context on an extraordinary story.<a href="https://twitter.com/MLBNetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLBNetwork</a>
Matt Eddy @MattEddyBA
Cristian Javier has allowed a .178 opponent average in his career. That is lowest among MLB pitchers with 300 IP since 2020.<br><br>You know what's wild? Javier led the minor leagues with a .130 AVG in 2019.<br><br>That is the lowest AVG by a qualifying MiLB pitcher—by .022!—that I can find.
On a staff that includes AL Cy Young Award candidates Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, Javier is somewhat the forgotten man of Houston's rotation. However, he's shown the potential to be the ace of any pitching staff in the majors.
Javier tied with Valdez to lead the team with 194 strikeouts in the regular season (in nearly 54 fewer innings), and he also started a combined no-hitter against the New York Yankees on June 25.
Wednesday's outing was a star-making performance for Javier, as well as a series-saving game for the Astros. The team is now guaranteed at least one more game in its home ballpark.
Houston will look to keep the momentum going in Thursday's Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park.