Jose Alvarado looked up and immediately turned his head around; he knew Yordan Alvarez had just murdered a 99-mph sinker and deposited it over the batter's eye in center field. 

It was a majestic blast that signified the end of a storybook run for the Phillies. 

The Astros won Game 6 of the World Series on Saturday at Minute Maid Park, 4-1. The victory clinched their second World Series title in six seasons. 

The Phillies were the final club to secure a postseason berth and were underdogs in every postseason series. The club was never supposed to reach the Fall Classic, yet it came to within two wins of taking a parade down Broad Street. It was a magical month of baseball that put the sport back in the Philadelphia spotlight. 

Zack Wheeler was outstanding for five innings for the Phillies but got into a jam in the sixth with runners on the corners and one out while nursing a 1-0 lead. 

Manager Rob Thomson elected to yank Wheeler in favor of the left-handed Alvarado. 

The rest, as they say, is history. 

"I thought [Wheeler] still had really good stuff," Thomson said. "It wasn't about that. I thought the matchup was better with Alvarado on Alvarez at that time." 

Wheeler had thrown only 70 pitches, and his velocity hovered around 97 mph. He wasn't expecting to be lifted in that situation, not with the season on the line. 

"It caught me off guard a little bit," Wheeler said. "It's win or go home right there. That's a tough pill to swallow. It's ultimately Top's [manager Rob Thomson] call, and that's the call he made." 

Thomson had made some quick hooks throughout the postseason to deploy Alvarado and other arms in the bullpen based on matchups. It worked nearly every time. 

Not in Game 6.  

Alvarez crushed a 2-1 pitch from Alvarado, launching it 450 feet with an exit velocity of 112 mph. 

"That pitch?" Alvarado said. "Nothing moving. It didn't move. If it moved, he had no chance. When he hit the ball, the sound [off the bat] says, 'OK, that's gone.'" 

Wheeler exited after 5 1/3 innings while surrendering two runs on three hits and a walk. He whiffed five and looked exponentially better than he did in Game 2 when he experienced a drop in velocity and struggled with his command. 

"That's a tough decision because of how good [Alvarado] has been for us," J.T. Realmuto said of Thomson's decision. "Wheels was incredible throwing the ball for us tonight. You have two lefties coming up in the next three batters. I'm sure that's the pocket they had circled before the game." 

The decision to remove Wheeler will be fodder for the weeks ahead, but it isn't the only reason the Phils faltered on baseball's biggest stage. 

The offense came to a screeching halt following the Game 3 spectacle of five homers. The club broke a World Series record for strikeouts in the Fall Classic with 71 whiffs and hit just .163 while posting a .580 OPS. 

The Phillies collected only three hits in Game 6 and combined to score just three runs over the final three games of the World Series. The club was no-hit in Game 4 before finishing 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving 12 men on base in a winnable Game 5. 

"We just didn't get it done," said Bryce Harper. "We didn't do enough to win."
13 stars

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