Culture / Sporting Life

Inside Cristian Javier and the Astros’ Beyond Sweet No-Hitter Celebration — The Crazy Calm Ace Made World Series History With Mom, Dad and His Closest Buddies

How a Former $10,000 Man Saved Houston's Championship Dreams in South Philly

BY // 11.03.22

PHILADELPHIA — After it’s over, after the Philadelphia Phillies are left reeling by a freakishly calm pitcher whose fastballs make the best hitters in the world think their peerless eyesight is playing devastatingly mean tricks on them, Bryan Abreu pulls Cristian Javier into an embrace and gives his good friend a simple message.

“I just hugged him and told him I was really proud of him,” Abreu tells PaperCity. “And I just told him that God always listens to our prayers.”

These two 25-year-old buddies from the Dominican Republic, two afterthoughts in the pitching world coming up together really, have spent plenty of time talking about their most farfetched dreams, sharing scenarios, talking about their faith. But it’s hard to imagine either of them dreaming of something quite this grand. How could anyone dream this?

For Javier and Abreu are part of only the second no-hitter in the 118 year history of the World Series. With Javier starting the game and rescuing the Houston Astros’ championship visions with six innings of utterly dominant, brilliant and stupefyingly calm baseball. The Hidden Ace who somehow still came into this World Series Game 4 regarded as the Astros’ fourth starter by many absolutely throttles a Phillies team that hit a World Series record five home runs just the night before.

This 5-0 Astros win that ends in a combined no-hitter (with Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly each throwing an inning to all-game catcher Christian Vazquez to complete this Javier orchestrated masterpiece) is not Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. But it’s something monumentally special in its own right.

Something storybook. Something desperately needed by this Astros team. Something very much Cristian Javier.

“I mean he’s got unicorn stuff obviously,” Astros reliever Ryne Stanek says of Javier. “Like that’s pretty clear. . . His composure is kind of unmatched for someone like him. He never changes ever. He’s the same guy all of the time. I mean, it’s wild to see someone that’s so even-keeled.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody that is as unchanging in like attitude and process. It’s crazy honestly.”

How crazily composed is Cristian Javier? The Fox cameras catch Javier sitting by himself in the dugout between innings, closing his eyes and seemingly meditating. In the middle of one of the loudest places on planet earth. That’s how calm, cool and collected the Astros’ Hidden Ace happens to be.

There are thoracic heart surgeons who are more jumpy. Captain Sully could learn something about composure from Cristian Javier.

“No moment is too big for him,” Astros centerfielder Chas McCormick says. “He’s amazing.”

Cristian Javier’s nickname is El Reptil because of his spooky calm, his seemingly cold blooded nature, the sense that nothing can faze him. But he’s very human as prone to doubts as the rest of us as his closest friends like Bryan Abreu will tell you. On this night, with both his parents in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park madhouse, his father having flown in to watch him pitch for the first time in person in the Big Leagues, the Astros’ World Series savior is fueled by a very human belief.

Who could have dreamed of a no-hit night like this? It turns out Cristian Javier’s parents could.

Cristian Javier and The No-Hitter Prediction

Trinidad Mieses and Cecilio Javier told him on the eve of the biggest start of his baseball career that he was going to throw a no hitter, God willing. Suddenly, the impossible started to seem possible to Cristian Javier.

“When they told me that, obviously I got a lot more motivated,” Javier says in Spanish. “I kept my faith in God and obviously I knew I had a big commitment today being down 2-1 in the series. And obviously with my parents being here, I just tried to give my best. Give my family the best that I could.”

In the process, he gave this dynasty seeking Astros team second life. Thanks to Javier, a once completely unheralded prospect from the Dominican Republic signed for an almost throwaway $10,000, Houston is in a 2-2 World Series, very much alive for its second championship since 2017.

Not done yet. Anything but dead yet. Not even close. When will the Astros doubters ever learn?

“His composure is kind of unmatched for someone like him. He never changes ever. He’s the same guy all of the time. I mean, it’s wild to see someone that’s so even-keeled.” — Astros reliever Ryne Stanek on Cristian Javier

The Astros hitters talked as group before this Game 4, promised themselves things would be different. That their approach and energy would be completely different.

“We talked about how they kicked our butts yesterday,” McCormick says of the Astros’ pregame meeting. “We had to make a point. We had to do something. We had to come in with some fire. We didn’t come with any fire in Game 3. So we had to come in with fire today.

“We punched back.”

The Astros don’t overwhelm the Phillies with loud home runs. Instead, they kill their spirt with one of the most 2022 Astros’ innings ever. Chas McCormick, Jose Altuve and Jeremy Peña all hit little singles to start the fifth inning, loading the bases. Yordan Alvarez gets hit by a pitch to drive in the first run of the game.

Then Alex Bregman falls down in the count 0-2 and still laces a double into right field to make it 3-0 Astros. Suddenly, a “Let’s Go Astros! Let’s Go Astros!” chant is breaking out in seemingly invincible Citizens Bank Park and Phillies fans are too stunned to even try and counter it.

A Kyle Tucker sacrifice fly and a single from forever Core Astro Yuli Gurriel later, it’s 5-0 Houston. With the Phillies still hitless themselves. This is how these 2022 Astros sap an opponent’s will, By a thousand little cuts that add up to another big postseason win.

This time, another November win.

“I think we were all focused on winning today,” Bregman says. “There was nothing else on our mind than just win today. Win the next pitch. And we’re going to keep that mentality moving forward.”

Rafael Montero, Bryan Abreu Cristian Javier, catcher Christian Vazquez and Ryan Pressly worked together to secure the second no hitter in the entire 118 year history of the World Series. (@Astros)
Rafael Montero, Bryan Abreu Cristian Javier, catcher Christian Vazquez and Ryan Pressly worked together to secure the second no-hitter in the entire 118 year history of the World Series. (@Astros)

The Phillies lose at home for the first time this entire postseason. And not just lose. The Astros beat them convincingly, sending some of those supposedly diehard, tougher-than-tough Philly fans scurrying for the exits in the eighth inning.

Not done yet. Anything but dead yet. Not even close. Who’s daring to doubt these Astros now?

Making World Series History

This together team came together to swing this World Series again, playing behind the 25-year-old with the heart rate of a blue whale, the kid from the Dominican who is pitching for his dad.

“I mean, it’s pretty cool,” Kyle Tucker tells PaperCity about being part of the historic no-hitter, one he helps secure with a tougher-than-expected leaning catch in the ninth inning. “For me obviously, the biggest thing is winning the game. We’re not worrying about the no hitter or anything.

“It was just nice to have.”

Just your ho-hum little step into all-time baseball immortality for Houston’s Astros. While the win and the 2-2 series with the pitching matchups clearly all back in the Astros’ favor are the biggest thing, these Astros do celebrate this historic no-hit night a little. That celebration can be heard through the big clubhouse doors as a seemingly endless line of reporters waits to get in. The Astros come together as a group in the visitors clubhouse and share a few words.

Including some very loud words.

“Yes,” Astros lifeline leader Jose Altuve says when someone asks if there is a little celebration for the no-hitter history. “You don’t see no-hitters like that every day. So you kind of get a special thing together as a team. But at the same time we’re trying to win the game.

“We knew that this game was so important for us.”

Series changing. Destiny shifting. Belief confirming. Doubt destroying.

Yes, Cristian Javier does so much for these Astros on an unforgettable night in South Philadelphia.

“We had to make a point. We had to do something. We had to come in with some fire. We didn’t come with any fire in Game 3. So we had to come in with fire today.” — Astros outfielder Chas McCormick

Javier makes this Wednesday night a completely different game than that Game 3 Phillies homerpalooza. He retires the first three Phillies batters on 15 pitches — and seems to get stronger. Javier strikes out the side in the bottom of the fourth inning, leaving Philadelphia’s most fearsome sluggers swinging at air. And still looking for their team’s first hit of the game.

Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber will wake up this Thursday still looking for that first hit. Cristian Javier’s parents spoke the possibility into existence — and this former $10,000 Man made sure it happened. Cristian Javier may have flown under the national radar coming into this game, unknown to even some semi serious baseball fans.

But that’s over now. With every inning, with every out, with every strikeout (and Javier gets nine of them in his six innings), with every successive zero, one of the best pitchers in all of baseball etches himself into World Series history. While announcing himself to the greater sporting world.

“Everyone knows who he is now,” Pressly says, the veteran Astros closer breaking into a big grin. “He’s not under the radar anymore. Not after what he did on this big stage.”

As the Astros talk in the modest visitors clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, an authenticator for the Baseball Hall of Fame goes around to the four pitchers who contributed to the no-hitter and makes sure some suddenly historic artifacts are preserved. This is what happens when you make history too. One coolly devastating fastball at a time.

When someone asks Pressly to describe Javier’s utterly baffling fastball — the one that plays those nasty tricks on the world’s best lumber wielders — the closer is succinct. “Clearly unhittable,” Pressly says.

The Astros’ new historic hero is also very human. As his buddy Bryan Abreu understands like few others.

“He’s worked so hard to be here,” Abreu tells PaperCity. “People don’t realize how hard he’s worked. I’m just so proud of him.”

The man himself will shuffle off the field with a winter Astros hat on his head, the relatively balmy for Philadelphia temperatures in the fifties more than cold enough for the kid from the Dominican. Cristian Javier still looks so completely calm.

Only now, he’s looking for mom and dad. This is how you go into history with heart.

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