PHILADELPHIA — Game 3 of the World Series was well worth the wait for Phillies fans.
From the moment the home plate umpire said “play ball” on Tuesday, Philadelphia fans were on their A-game for the first World Series contest in the city since 2009, drowning Citizens Bank Park in a chorus of boos and “cheater” chants for Astros players, especially those involved in the sign-stealing scandal.
Turns out, Bryce Harper and the Phillies also had some pent up excitement, releasing it in the form of five long balls from five different players en route to a 7-0 win over Houston.
The five home runs tied the record for most in a World Series game, joining the 1928 Yankees, 1989 Athletics and 2017 Astros. The Yankees, Athletics and Astros all went on to win those World Series.
The Phillies now hold a 2-1 series lead over the Astros with two more games in the City of Brotherly Love.
Harper, naturally, started the home run party for the Phillies in the first inning. On the first pitch he saw, the former Nationals superstar gave Philadelphia a 2-0 lead by blasting a hanging breaking ball from Astros starter Lance McCullers 402 feet to right field. The swing was the second straight at Citizens Bank Park that resulted in a homer for Harper, whose previous swing in front of Philadelphia fans was the game-winner in the Phillies’ series-clinching win over the Padres in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Third baseman Alec Bohm and center fielder Brandon Marsh then followed Harper’s lead by smacking solo shots in the second inning to give Philadelphia a 4-0 advantage. Bohm’s homer was a 109.2 mph frozen rope that barely cleared the left field fence, while Marsh’s narrowly made it over the right-field fence.
McCullers, whose start was exactly five years since his win in Game 7 of Houston’s 2017 World Series championship, settled down after the rough start, retiring his next eight batters after Marsh’s home run. That is, until Philadelphia’s order turned over for a third time in the fifth inning, and Kyle Schwarber made McCullers — and Astros manager Dusty Baker for leaving McCullers in — pay with a towering blast.
Schwarber, a Washington National for the first half of the 2021 season, annihilated a changeup 443 feet to dead center field. No one was warming up in the Astros’ bullpen before Schwarber’s jack, so McCullers stayed in to face Rhys Hoskins, who deposited a slider over the left field fence for his sixth homer of the postseason. With Hoskins’ blast, the Phillies joined the 2020 Dodgers (in Game 3 of the NLCS) as the only clubs in MLB history to hit five home runs in the first five innings of a playoff game.
McCullers, who many on Twitter suspected could have been tipping his pitches, is the first pitcher in MLB history to allow five home runs in a postseason game.
It wasn’t just the bats that were sharp for the Phillies, as starter Ranger Suarez tossed five shutout innings for the win. The southpaw allowed just three hits and walked one, improving his postseason earned-run average to a crisp 1.23.
Connor Brogdon, Kyle Gibson, Nick Nelson and Andrew Bellatti relieved Suarez and held onto the shutout with scoreless frames of their own. The Astros collected only five hits in the loss.
First pitch for Game 4 in Philadelphia Wednesday is 8:03 p.m.