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The Phillies won Game 3 over the Astros, bouncing off Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr.

The Phillies won Game 3 over the Astros, bouncing off Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr.

The Philadelphia Phillies came out swinging in Game 3 of the World Series, and they didn’t stop until she was out of reach. They hit five home runs at Houston Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr., starting with the kickoff from Bryce Harperto take a 2-1 series lead in front of the Philadelphia crowd.

The Phillies went 7-0 with all seven runs at home. Harper, Alec BohmBrandon Marsh, Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins each went deep once.

Phillies starter Ranger Suarez, brought back into the picture for Game 3 due to Monday’s rain delay, pitched five scoreless frames. By the time manager Rob Thomson turned to the pen, he had the luxury of a giant cushion.

Astros skipper Dusty Baker raised eyebrows for not turning to his well-stocked, rested bullpen sooner. McCullers finished allowing an MLB postseason record five home runs — a stat that reflects the way he pitched, yes, but also how long he stayed out when he clearly wasn’t fooling the Phillies’ lineup. Even if he had been pulled before facing the lineup a third time — common even in the regular season now — he would have allowed just three homers.

Bryce Harper leads the offense against Lance McCullers Jr.

Philatelic fireworks started almost immediately. After a walk to Kyle Schwarber, Harper crushed the first World Series pitch he saw at Citizens Bank Park.

In the second inning, the Phillies smoked two more homers to put the Astros in a demoralizing 4-0 hole. The final burst left McCullers with all seven runs on the card, most runs allowed by a World Series starter since 2004.

Still, McCullers could have been on the hook for the loss with just one homer given the flawless performance of the Astros’ offense. They didn’t get a single extra base hit, even against the second-ranked Phillies bullpen.

Did McCullers tilt his pitches?

If the quick home runs didn’t raise suspicions that McCullers was reversing his pitches, Harper’s pre-at-bat whisper to Bohm — who promptly homered — did.

Internet detectives and broadcaster John Smoltz soon explored the ways the Astros’ starter might have tipped the Phillies off about what was coming.

Notably, McCullers refused to throw his fastball, especially to lefties, so they already had some power to sit on his usually dynamic breaking balls. He threw just 14 sixes (his primary fastball) in 78 pitches.

He settled down a bit after the initial flurry of long balls, at one point pulling off eight in a row.

But Baker did him no favors by allowing him to face the top of the order for the third time. He allowed homers to Schwarber and Hoskins to make dubious history before finally getting the hook.

The Phillies now have a clear goal: try to put the series away without returning to Houston. To do that, they’ll first need to win Game 4 on Wednesday night. Co-ace Aaron Nola, after a rough Game 1, gets the ball for the Phillies. The Astros will start Christian Xavierwho really was their third best starter all season and one of the best pitchers in baseball.

How did we get here? Find out everything you need to know about the World Series:





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