Before managing his first game of the World Series on Friday, a relaxed Rob Thomson chatted about not overthinking things. He was keen to keep his team loose as he had been throughout the season and the same applied to his decisions – in this case the batting order worked well but also writ large.

Thomson changed his tactics with a sense of urgency. He didn’t wait for cars that might not matter, gaining time with his best unloaders. It’s time for someone like JT Realmut to do what he did in the top of the 10th inning.

Realmuta led off the 10th with a solo home run, the first for either team since the fifth and the decisive five-run game as the Phillies won Game 1, 6-5, over the Houston Astros.

Thomson went for it from his bullpen. He used Jose Alvarado in the fifth to face shortstop Jordan Alvarez and two-homer hero Kyle Tucker. He used Ranger Suarez, who was otherwise slated to start Game 3, for that move in order in the sixth and seventh innings. He walked his intended closer, Serantani Dominguez, with one out in the eighth.

That meant he was left with only David Robertson to save, but he might not have gotten there if it weren’t for the use of his big hands in the biggest spots he knew were in front of him.

It worked, even if it was tricky at times. Alec Bohm had a great game, getting into foul territory on Martin Maldonado’s groundout to end the sixth with two out.

The closest shave came in the ninth when Jose Altuve hit a single up the middle with two outs, the second baseman’s 3-for-36 start to the postseason. Altuve then took a second shot, so close that Thomson challenged the safety call but missed it by a millimeter.

Jeremy Peña followed by slicing what appeared to be the game-winner into shallow right field … until Nick Castellanos advanced in the glove, a clutch fifth that was recorded by Dominguez.

Nick Castellanos #8 of the Philadelphia Phillies jumps to catch a fly ball in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 28, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

That got Realmuto to spin Luis Garcia’s 3-2, 97 mph fastball to lead off the 10th, driving it into the front row of seats in right, past Tucker’s outstretched arm. It was the first extra-inning homer in the postseason by a catcher since Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, and the first extra-inning homer by a Phillie since Lenny Dykstra in Game 5 of the 1993 NLCS.

Then Robertson came through, in dangerous situations. Alex Bregman doubled with one out off the wall in left, then Yuri Gurriel walked. Both advanced on a wild pitch.

Robertson appeared to be loading the bases when Aledmys Diaz was hit by a bunt. But umpire James Hoy called it a strike and Diaz clearly bowed. Two pitches later, he bounced harmlessly to the third baseman to end it.

It seemed destined for Tucker’s early night. The All-Star right fielder, who hit 30 home runs and drove in 100 runs this season, joked in a press conference Thursday about hoping to end the streak at four games. Then he played as he thought.

Tucker had the first hit of the game, a solo homer off Aaron Nola in the second inning. He then hit a 3-2 sinker by Nolo that didn’t quite sink into the Astros’ bullpen for a 3-run shot to make it 5-0.

In normal times, that would have been enough for Justin Verlander, who last saw the Phillies hitless (albeit tired from celebrating) through five innings in the final series of the regular season. But Verlander’s World Series is a different beast — as, in all fairness, never say die Phils who got here.

Over the course of three decades, Verlander went eight World Series starts without a win. His ERA in the Fall Classic climbed to 6.07, a far cry from his overall postseason success.

He cruised through three innings of a nine-up, nine-down start for the Phillies with more strikeouts (four) than infield balls. But the Phillies’ small ball got to him in the fourth. Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper singled, the latter with two outs, extending Harper’s hitting streak to 12 games, two shy of the MLB record. Nick Castellanos drove a single into center to score the run, and Alec Bohm ripped a ball down the left field line to chase it down with two. Just like that, what was a 5-0 lead was cut to 5-3.

The Phillies continued to pour in the fifth as Brandon Marsh snapped an 0-for-16 start in the division series with a buzzer-beating double. Kyle Schwarber walked and both ran home when JT Realmuta hit a double off the wall. Verlander went five-hitter while striking out five and walking six.

Nola didn’t last long after striking out Jeremy Pena to lead off the fifth. In a horrible repeat of his outing in San Diego, he was hit by a nine-hole catcher who took a hit and run through the vacated hole at second base. At least this one wasn’t his brother. Martin Maldonado did it in the second inning, scoring Yuli Gurriel and driving in Tucker’s solo shot to make it 2-0.

The Phillies had their chances against the Astros bullpen. Brian Abreu tired in the second inning of work in the seventh, allowing an infield single and a pair of walks. But Hector Neris, the Phillies’ only closer, came in to strike out Castellanos with the bases loaded.