The Philadelphia Phillies are two wins away from the most unlikely of titles after matching a World Series record with five home runs in a 7-0 blowout of the heavily favored Houston Astros on Tuesday night in Game 3.
Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer on the first pitch he faced in the bottom of the first inning, Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh added solo homers in the second, then Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins squared off in the fifth. All of the long balls came from Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr, who became the first pitcher to give up five home runs in a World Series game.
That was more than enough for outfielder Suarez, the Phillies’ lefty starter who scattered three hits in five scoreless innings against the potent Astros lineup. From there, Connor Brogdon, Kyle Gibson, Nick Nelson and Andrew Bellatti each added a scoreless inning to complete the five-hit series and the Phillies’ first shutout in the Fall Classic since 1993.
“He’s a guy with no heartbeat,” Phillies catcher JT Realmuto said of Suarez. “He looks like he’s playing a child’s game.”
The Astros’ best chance came with two outs in the top of the fifth when Chas McCormick and Martin Maldonado reached base, but Suarez convinced Jose Altuve to throw out the sideline. Moments later, Schwarber and Hoskins lunged into back-to-back at-bats to eject McCullers from the game while sending the crowd of 45,712 into chaos.
“It was kind of mind-boggling because he doesn’t allow home runs,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “Usually he keeps the ball in the stadium. He was not satisfied with that. We were very surprised.”
Long-suffering Phillies fans had waited 4,746 days for World Series baseball to return to South Philadelphia, then one more day after Game 3 was postponed 24 hours due to heavy rain Monday night, and they gave the American League champions a scolding from the first at-bat. Roaring chants of “Cheaters! Cheaters! they cascaded from the upper deck throughout the night, a nod to Houston’s sign-stealing scandal that tainted its first and only World Series title in 2017.
“Just getting into the ballpark, just being back home, it’s a huge boost for us just because of our fan base,” said Harper, who made his World Series debut three years after joining the Phillies with a then-record $330. m, 13-year contract. “We all come here and we’re ready to go and we’re excited to get on the field because we know they’re going to show up and there’s going to be 46,000 people here screaming and going crazy.
“This whole city is so excited to be here right now and we’re thrilled to be able to play in front of them and have this opportunity and just be here with them.”
On paper, this year’s Fall Classic seemed like a historic mismatch. Houston won 19 more games than Philadelphia during the regular season, the largest disparity between World Series opponents in all but one of 118 editions: when the 116-win Cubs were beaten by the 93-win White Sox in 1906.
But the Phillies, the last team to qualify for the playoffs and the first third-place team to reach the World Series, have caught fire at the right time. They improved to six wins from six at home in the postseason, totaling 17 home runs in those games, and seem hell-bent on finishing things here rather than returning to Houston for the final two scheduled best-of-seven games. find.
“The only thing I can really compare it to is a European football game,” Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos said of the team’s home court advantage. “It’s tough playing here, even as a hometown player, but I can’t imagine what it’s like for the Astros right now. They really have zero room to breathe. And that’s a good thing.”
Throughout history, when the World Series has been tied at one game apiece, the winner of Game 3 has won the title more than two-thirds of the time (41 of 61 total). The series resumes with Game 4 on Wednesday night, when Houston will send Cristian Javier to the mound against Phillies ace Aaron Nola, who will work a normal break due to Monday’s postponement.
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