Phillies make history with 5 homers off Astros starter in Game 3 win
PHILADELPHIA — In the first World Series playoff game at Citizens Bank Park in 13 years, the Philadelphia Phillies delivered a historic punch to Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr.
And superstar Bryce Harper delivered the initial punishment and, apparently, some crucial advice.
Harper’s two-run homer late in the first inning kicked off a record five homer blitz against McCullers as the Phillies won 7-0 in Game 3 to take a 2-run lead -1 in the World Series.
Philadelphia became the first team to hit five home runs in the first five innings of a World Series game in the event’s 118 years. The longball provided all seven points for the Phillies, and they won their sixth unbeaten playoff game at Citizens Bank Park.
They’ll go for No. 7 — and a 3-1 series lead — Wednesday night in Game 4 behind ace Aaron Nola.
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McCullers, who pitched his first World Series game since 2017, became the first pitcher in playoff history — let alone World Series history — to give up five home runs in a single game.
The punishment was quick and relentless and the Phillies’ sharing of information – and the results they achieved – certainly made it seem like McCullers could have tipped the scales, a claim the Astros deflected.
“Sometimes,” manager Dusty Baker says, “they hit you.”
Harper, the cleanup hitter, homered on the first World Series pitch he saw in his home dig, tossing a McCullers curveball across the face of the second deck for a two-run homer in the first. inning, the Phillies’ first advantage in regulation this series.
An inning later, the Phillies made history, as Alec Bohm also pounced on a McCullers 1st pitch offer and Brandon Marsh a two-ball homer pitch for a 4-0 lead. and a local crowd bombardment of 45,712 thirsty.
GAME 3: The Phillies showed their power from the start against the Astros
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And after Harper battered McCullers’ pitch from 402 feet and completed the base lap, he stopped and whispered advice to next hitter Nick Castellanos, like a 15-year-old telling his travel buddy the dirt on the pitcher’s curveball.
Castellanos finished third, but TV cameras also caught Harper whispering to Bohm. And Bohm jumped on the first pitch he saw from McCullers – a 93 mph lead on the inside half – and hit it over the Yuengling sign in left center field, for the 1,000th home run in the league. history of the World Series.
Marsh, the No. 9 hitter, hit a classic Citizens Bank pitch — popped into right field but carrying too far for Kyle Tucker to corral it. The game was reviewed for fan interference but held up for a 4–0 lead.
Three innings later, the Astros were still trailing only 4-0 and with Phillies starter Ranger Suarez tiring, Houston was very much in. But with three games in a row without days off, Houston manager Dusty Baker opted to stay with McCullers, even with the game still at hand.
Not for a long time.
Marsh’s one-out single flipped the lineup and Kyle Schwarber unloaded, with a 443-foot ride to the pines in the dead center field. Still no hook.
So Rhys Hoskins finished McCullers, sinking another left ball for a 7-0 lead and foul time in Game 3. McCullers got just 13 outs and earned an unwanted spot in the record books.
For the Phillies, it was a frenetic evening of longballs and a superb display of their top-to-bottom homerun power.
“Every guy in our roster, we have all the confidence in the world to go out there and play,” Harper said, “and we have to keep doing that for the next two days.”
With an extra day to prepare thanks to Monday’s rain, Philadelphia has clearly done its homework on McCullers, who highlights a curveball and a slider. And while Bohm didn’t comply with what Harper told him in a post-homer interview, maybe it doesn’t matter: The Phillies were on McCullers whether the veteran right-hander tipped the scales or nope.
“He’s a very shrewd baseball player, a very shrewd person,” Baker said of Harper, who he coached with the Washington Nationals in 2016-17. “That’s what teammates do. That’s what good hitters do. They pass on all the information they can find and see.
“Now whether he passed on information to help them is between him and his teammates.”
The Astros had little response for Suarez, who retired four of five shutout innings and won a Game 3 for the second straight series, after defeating San Diego in the NLCS. Houston has a 12 inning scoreless streak since Game 2.
Suarez has allowed just one earned run in his last 11 1/3 innings, picking up two wins and one stoppage during that four-appearance streak. His accuracy will certainly give the Phillies the confidence to launch him in an early Game 7 – if they need it.
But Game 3 was about the big bats. And none are bigger than Harper, who hit six playoff homers and, four years into a 13-year, $330 million contract, has certainly been worth every penny in this postseason.
And Philadelphia is just two wins away from its first World Series title in 14 years.
“We’re all family here, man,” Harper says. “We’re all trying to come here and play the best baseball we can, knowing we’ve got a whole city and a whole organization behind us.
“That’s all you can ask for as a player, knowing that the people behind you have your back, whether it’s your manager, whether it’s your chief executive or chairman, or your owner.”