PHILADELPHIA — Consider Mr. October impressed.
Astros starter Cristian Javier threw six brilliant no-hit innings to open Game 4 of the World Series and three Houston relievers finished off the combined no-hitter, only the second no-hit gem in World Series history. Reggie Jackson, king of World Series sluggers and now a special adviser for the Astros, watched Javier’s effort with a sense of awe.
“That’s a big-time act there, coming off what we went through last night, in this town,” Jackson told me after the historic outing, in a one-on-one conversation in a side hallway in the visitor’s clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park. “You lose tonight and you kiss it goodbye. That’s a two-game win tonight. Two games.”
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True enough, the Astros were facing the prospect of going down in the series 3-1 and scrambling just to avoid elimination in Philadelphia. But thanks to Javier’s effort — and a timely five-run outburst by the Houston offense in the fifth inning — the World Series is knotted at two games apiece, and a return trip to Texas for Game 6 is guaranteed.
Jackson, of course, has an October resume few can even pretend to match.
His teams won five World Series titles — three with the Oakland A’s, two with the Yankees — and the Hall of Famer did his most memorable work with that bright spotlight on him. It wasn’t just his epic three-homer game in the 1977 World Series, either. In 27 career games in the championship round, Jackson hit .357 with a 1.212 OPS, 10 home runs and 24 RBIs.
The World Series has had many heroes over the years, but Jackson’s claim to the “Mr. October” title is undisputed.
And that’s why Jackson, maybe more than anyone else, can find a special joy watching players like Javier achieve the incredible on the October (or November) stage.
“Love it. Just love it” he said with a smile. “It’s very cool. But I’m really not surprised out of him. He no-hit the Yankees in Yankee Stadium and nobody knew who he was. Then he came back after the All-Star Game and he beat them again. Then beat them in the playoffs. No one knows his first name.”
It’s Cristian, not Christian. No “h” in there.
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Javier threw seven no-hit innings in Yankee Stadium on June 25, striking out 13 Yankees, and two Houston relievers finished the combined no-no. The second game Jackson mentioned was on July 21, when he gave up just two hits and one run in Houston. And, of course, the brilliant playoff start in the ALCS, when he gave up just one hit in 5 1/3 innings back in Yankee Stadium.
If people didn’t know his name heading into the World Series, they know now.
Javier talked earlier this week about how his rough learning experience in the 2021 World Series — he made three relief appearances against Atlanta, giving up three home runs and four runs in three innings — helped him learn how to control his emotions on the mound on that big stage, how to not let them get the best of him.
Consider that lesson successfully learned.
“It’s unbelievable how calm he is, how gathered he is, how much in control of his thoughts and feelings he is,” Jackson said. “He’s a tremendous pro at that.”
I asked Jackson whether Javier reminded him of anyone he faced during his playing days.
“He’s really good. Maybe Dave Stewart? He has the composure of Dave Stewart,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s fair to say he’s like Bob Gibson, but his composure was just flawless. Like Catfish Hunter out there on the mound. Whitey Ford. He knew what he was doing.”
And what he was doing on Wednesday night was keeping Houston’s hopes alive, which is what any good World Series hero does. Mr. October would know.