The Philadelphia Phillies are two wins from the most improbable of titles after matching a World Series record with five home runs in a 7-0 battering of the Houston Astros on Tuesday night in Game 3.
Bryce Harper hit a two-run home run off the first pitch he faced in the first inning, Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh added solo shots in the second, then Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins went back to back in the fifth. All of them came off 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 Ranger Suarez, who scattered three hits over five scoreless innings against the Astros’ potent lineup. From there Connor Brogdon, Kyle Gibson, Nick Nelson and Andrew Bellatti added one scoreless inning apiece to complete the Phillies’ first shutout in World Series play since 1993.
The Phillies’ long-suffering fans had waited 4,746 days for the return of World Series baseball to South Philadelphia – then one day more after Game 3 was postponed 24 hours due to heavy rainfall on Monday night – and gave the American League champions an earful from the first at-bat.
On paper this year’s Fall Classic appeared 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 of the Fall Classic: 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 ever to reach the World Series – have caught fire at the right time. They improved to six wins from six at home in the postseason and appear hell-bent on finishing matters here rather than returning to Houston for Game 6.
More to follow …