The Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA — As Bryce Harper jogged the final 45 feet of a home-run trot in the first inning Tuesday night, he looked directly into a Fox television camera that followed him up the third-base line.
“This is my house,” he said.
Sorry, but for the first time in this wild ride of a Phillies postseason, Harper was wrong. With all due respect to Mr. October/November — and let there be no doubt that Harper owns both months until further notice — this house belongs to you. All of you. The 45,000-plus that have packed the place, rocked the joint, and generally turned Citizens Bank Park into the place to be in South Philly again.
It was raucous in the divisional round, ear-shattering in the National League Championship Series, and when the World Series returned to town for the first time in 4,747 nights — and the Phillies tied a World Series record with five home runs in a 7-0 Game 3 throttling of the Houston Astros to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series — well, you just had to be here.
You had to feel the concrete shake beneath your feet and hear the screams of “Chea-ters!” directed at the Astros, residue from their 2017 sign-stealing escapades. The noise began even before the pregame introductions and kept on building. It grew positively deafening when Nick Castellanos made another of his patented sliding catches on the first pitch of the game to steal a hit from Jose Altuve and got louder with every home run.
From Harper’s two-run shot to solos by Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh in the second inning, Kyle Schwarber’s titanic two-run clout off the shrubbery on the batter’s eye in the fifth inning, and Rhys Hoskins’ missile to left field five pitches later, the decibel level grew by a magnitude.
The Phillies tied a World Series record for homers in a game, a feat last achieved by those trash can-banging Astros in Game 5 in 2017. The bash-brothers Oakland A’s did in Game 3 in 1989. So did the New York Yankees of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in Game 4 in 1928.
Behind the home-run derby against Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. and five scoreless innings from cucumber-cool Ranger Suarez, the Phillies won Game 3, which has tended to be a bellwether. In 61 previous World Series in which the teams split the first two games, the Game 3 winner went on to win 41 series (67.2%). In the last 24 World Series that were tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner won 19 times, including 2017, 2020, and last year.
All along, the Phillies were built to outslug everyone and everything. It’s their best path to upsetting the 106-win Astros, especially given the questions that have arisen about the health of ace Zack Wheeler and effectiveness of Game 4 starter Aaron Nola.
Harper, as usual, had the biggest swing. He teed off on a first-pitch curveball from McCullers, who throws his breaking ball as frequently as almost any pitcher in baseball, especially to left-handed hitters. Harper’s first swing at home in the World Series produced the same outcome as his last swing in the NLCS, a home run that gave the Phillies a lead.
Make it six postseason homers for Harper, who has a franchise-record 11 extra-base hits and every right to call this his house.
A few minutes later, as Bohm stood on deck, Harper called him to the dugout and said something in his ear, prompting social media sleuths to suggest that McCullers must have been tipping his pitches. But Harper may have been simply reminding Bohm that McCullers threw only three curveballs to right-handed hitters all season. If Bohm was able to forget about the curveball and sit on a sinker, his chances of driving the ball improved dramatically.
Sure enough, Bohm led off the second inning, got a first-pitch sinker from McCullers, and drove it into the left-field seats for a 3-0 lead.
The crowd — 45,712 strong — was still going bonkers two batters later when Marsh lifted a homer over leaping right fielder Kyle Tucker’s glove and the outstretched mitt of a 10-year-old fan to pad the margin to 4-0 and kick the party into another gear. Among the stars spotted in attendance: Derek Jeter, Tim McGraw, Rob McElhenney, Carli Lloyd, Fletcher Cox, Jeffrey Lurie, and a host of former Phillies, including Chase Utley all the way from England.
McCullers gave up a total of one home run in 96 plate appearances by left-handed hitters during the regular season, Harper, Marsh, and Schwarber took him deep in Game 3 alone. Schwarber’s latest moonshot was measured at 443 feet, marking his fourth 400-plus foot homer in the playoffs. Astros manager Dusty Baker stuck with McCullers so long that he became the first pitcher ever to allow five homers in a World Series game.
But then the Phillies’ offense is at its most dangerous at home. In six postseason games here, they have hit 17 homers compared with five in eight playoff games on the road.
And the loudest crowd in baseball has loved every second of it, with two more games coming up in the next two nights.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.