The Astros proved something with the middle three road games of the 2022 World Series. They have the ability to win anywhere, in any fashion, and under any types of pressure.

The ‘Stros return to the Juice Box with two opportunities to win their second world championship in franchise history.

The first chance is on Saturday night for Game 6, with the one and only “Mattress Mack” throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at 7:03 p.m.

Yuli Gurriel’s status unclear

Astros’ Yuli Gurriel, right, looks down after getting caught in a run down as third base coach Gary Pettis, left, comes by with his helmet on Nov. 3, 2022.AP Photo/Chris Szagola

If he’s going to play Saturday, Houston’s first baseman is likely holding on to a lot of pain after awkwardly turning his right knee during a rundown in the Astros’ Game 5 victory.

Manager Dusty Baker didn’t have an update on Gurriel’s condition during his availability early Friday, but Gurriel said after Thursday’s game that he was hopeful of playing on Saturday – at least as the designated hitter.

“I hope so,” Gurriel, speaking in Spanish, said late Thursday night. “I still feel a little sore, and I think I’ll be even more sore [on Friday]. But I’m hopeful that on Saturday I can be in the lineup.”

If Gurriel, at the minimum, isn’t available at first base, Trey Mancini may be get the start. Mancini made one of the defensive plays of Game 5 when he held onto Kyle Schwarber’s sharply hit grounder to end the eighth inning.

Game 2 rematch

Framber Valdez, whom many observers believe pose a big challenge to Philadelphia’s World Series comeback efforts, is starting Houston’s potential clincher on Saturday.

He opposes the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler, who was rocked in Game 2 by three straight Astros doubles to begin his start. Valdez walked away with the victory in their matchup a week ago.

Philadelphia’s interim manager, Rob Thomson, said he plans to have Ranger Suarez, who won his lop-sided Game 3 start, available out of the bullpen in relief.

Wheeler experienced a slight dip in fastball velocity during his Game 2 start, going from around 97 mph in four prior postseason starts to about 95, and ultimately gave up five runs (four earned) in five innings.

The Phillies later said Wheeler was experiencing arm fatigue, prompting the Phillies to push him back to Game 6 to give him two additional days of rest.

Wheeler, speaking via video conference during Friday’s travel day, threw his between-starts bullpen session on Thursday and said he “felt good.”

“I think we’re on track,” Wheeler added.

Suarez is lined up on the typical four days rest to start a potential Game 7 on Sunday, but Aaron Nola will get that start in what will evolve into something of a bullpen game, given that Nola will be on short rest, Thomson said.

Astros riding a World Series losing streak

But how can they, you ask? How can they be on a losing streak when they’ve won two straight, especially in hostile territory?

Game 6s have not been so kind to the Astros. They have lost the last three World Series Game 6s that they’ve played in dating back to their first championship.

In 2017, with a 3-2 advantage, Houston dropped Game 6 on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-1, after Justin Verlander gave up the go-ahead runs to push the series to Game 7.

In 2019, also with a 3-2 advantage, the Astros lost Game 6, this time at home against the Washington Nationals, 7-2, in another Verlander loss.

And in 2021, Houston, down 3-2 and fighting for its World Series life, dropped Game 6 at home to the Atlanta Braves, 7-0.

Will this Game 6 be different in 2022?

Caesars Sportsbook has the Astros as a -155 favorite, which means you’d have to risk $155 to win $100.

People behind Game 6

Here are more facts about who’s doing what at the potential championship-clincher:

  • Ceremonial first pitch: Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale
  • Nation’s colors: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Color Guard
  • National Anthem: Andy Grammer
  • Play Ball call: George Strait

2022 World Series results and schedule: Astros lead 3-2

  • Game 1: Phillies 6, Astros 5 (10)
  • Game 2: Astros 5, Phillies 2
  • Game 3: Phillies 7, Astros 0
  • Game 4: Astros 5, Phillies 0
  • Game 5: Astros 3, Phillies 2
  • Game 6: at Houston, Saturday, 7:03 p.m.
  • Game 7*: at Houston, Sunday, 7:03 p.m.

* if necessary

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