Astros' Framber Valdez seen with eyes closed between innings of his legendary Game 5 performance

How was Framber Valdez able to be "en fuego" in Game 5? He was, as one Twitter user pointed, "tranquilo."

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Thursday, October 21, 2021
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Framber Valdez, the Houston Astros' Game 5 starting pitcher, was spotted in the dugout with his eyes closed between innings of his ALCS gem.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Framber Valdez's eight innings of shut-down pitching against a Boston Red Sox offense that pinned three grand slams on the Astros are now part of Houston sports lore.

The left-handed hurler struck out five batters and allowed just three hits in a Game 5 start that Dusty Baker and company desperately needed to go beyond three innings.

So, why was Valdez able to pull off the longest outing by any starting pitcher during this postseason? It might be attributed to blocking out the distractions, especially in a hostile Fenway Park environment.

During the telecast of the ALCS game, Valdez was seen in between innings, isolated with eyes closed.

As one Twitter user pointed out, the Dominican Valdez was "tranquilo."

Granted, there were spots in the game that Valdez could have easily allowed the Red Sox to open the flood gates, especially in the fifth inning when he allowed a double and then hit a batter to put the go-ahead run on the base paths with Houston up 1-0.

"I didn't get frustrated at all. I wasn't down on myself," Valdez said. "I just worked the entire time and I had my mindset set that I was just going to come out and have a way better outing. And that's what I was able to do tonight."

SEE ALSO: Astros arrive home after Game 5 victory over Red Sox

In a piece by ESPN's Joon Lee, Valdez was said to have credited his "mindfulness practices" after his less-than-stellar Game 1 start, which saw him pitch in only 2 2/3 innings.

"After he returned to the dugout following the rocky start to the fifth inning, Valdez closed his eyes and began meditating, which he turns to when he needs to mentally reset," Lee wrote. "The process, which he started with his psychologist Andy Nuñez in the Dominican Republic, helps him control his emotions and visualize the success he hopes to achieve on the mound."

And the 27-year-old pitcher stands by it, saying it's worked for him "100 percent." He was even seen shrugging off a solo home run by Boston's Rafael Devers in the seventh inning.

"My emotions don't get out of hand. I don't get in an altered state at all and I feel totally focused on what I need to do. That's something I have been working on a lot and something that really centers me and allows me to be calm out there," Valdez was quoted in Lee's article.

Valdez's practice may be just a smart part of the total mental state that his pitching staff strives for, especially in the playoffs.

Another ESPN piece, this one by Jesse Rogers, highlighted the use of the Finnish phrase "sisu," which Finland's tourism website defines as "stoic determination, hardiness, courage, bravery, willpower, tenacity and resilience." It has been something pitching coach Brent Strom has evangelized to a staff that has now skewed younger.

"I've been very blessed with the [Justin] Verlanders and the [Gerrit] Coles and the [Dallas] Keuchels and all these guys that have been there, done it," Strom said. "This is a whole new group right now, and I just asked them to dig a little deep. ... The bullpen was taxed. We were beat up a little. But they stepped up in a big way."

Whether it's actively practicing a clearance of the mind, or going headfirst into a state of mind, the Astros seem to be using those techniques to great success, proven by the fact that they are one win away from a third World Series in five seasons.

The Associated Press and ESPN contributed to this report.

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