Astros Starter Insists Awful Start Had ‘Nothing to Do With Tipping’

PHILADELPHIA — Lance McCullers Jr. had just set a World Series record by surrendering five home runs in a game and he wasn’t having any of it. Not the pitch-tipping theories that were wildly circulating on social media, not the possibility that he was rusty after having pitched just twice since Oct. 3, none of it.

“Listen,” he said after the Astros had absorbed a 7-0 beating by the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 3 of the World Series. “I am who I am. I’m going to throw a lot of off-speed. Everyone knows that.”

The two-run home run Bryce Harper smashed in the first inning on a first-pitch curveball was in a poor location, McCullers said. But as hot as Harper is, maybe if it was in a better location the lefty still would have blasted it, McCullers added.

“I got beat, man, you know?” he said. “They hit a lot of solid pitches, I thought. But at the end of the day, we got beat pretty bad. And I got beat up pretty bad. I obviously wanted to pitch well and pitch better than I did. But at the end of the day, all I can do is go and get ready for Game 7.”

After taking their 7-0 beating to fall behind the Phillies two games to one in a World Series that started with Houston as the heavy favorites, what was notable about the tone in the Astros’ postgame clubhouse was their lowered standards. McCullers talked about preparing for Game 7 because, if this series stretches that far, he likely will be the man to get the ball. He talked about squeezing out one win in the three games here to guarantee that the series will return to Houston for Game 6.

Suddenly, the team that breezed through the regular season and then started the postseason 7-0 has realized that it has stepped into an alley fight.

And with a sellout crowd of 45,712 roaring so loud that Citizens Bank Park seemed to be shaking for much of the night, things are not about to get easier in Games 4 and 5.

That McCullers was torched for five home runs was a stunning development because he is not a pitcher who usually is hurt by the long ball.

In 47⅔ regular season innings in 2022, he allowed only four home runs.

In four and a third innings in Game 3, the Phillies lit him up for five.

He threw 78 pitches overall, 52 of which were strikes. Which means nearly 10 percent of his strikes were redirected over the fences at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies Hit 1,950 Feet of Home Runs

Ben ShpigelReporting from Citizens Bank Park

Phillies Hit 1,950 Feet of Home Runs

Ben ShpigelReporting from Citizens Bank Park

Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Phillies on Tuesday became the fourth team ever — like, ever — to hit five homers in a World Series game, and all of them came off Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. The balls traveled a combined 1,950 feet. That’s far.

Let’s review them all, shall we? →

Phillies Hit 1,950 Feet of Home Runs

Ben ShpigelReporting from Citizens Bank Park

Doug Mills/The New York Times

The ball Bryce Harper mashed into the seats in right-center for his sixth homer of the postseason, should have had an obituary written about it. It lived a good life. R.I.P.

Phillies Hit 1,950 Feet of Home Runs

Ben ShpigelReporting from Citizens Bank Park

Elsa/Getty Images

Alec Bohm’s liner might have scraped the top of Yordan Alvarez’s cap on its flight over the flower beds in left field, and at a speed — 109.2 miles per hour, according to Statcast — considered unattainable on my first car.

Phillies Hit 1,950 Feet of Home Runs

Ben ShpigelReporting from Citizens Bank Park

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Brandon Marsh 9-ironed a ball into the first row of seats in right field, with it popping out of the glove of a 10-year-old boy, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, and requiring a replay review to confirm it was gone. It was.

Phillies Hit 1,950 Feet of Home Runs

Ben ShpigelReporting from Citizens Bank Park

Doug Mills/The New York Times

The ivy-covered batter’s eye in center field at Citizens Bank Park is 35 feet high. Kyle Schwarber’s homer might have still been rising when the ball struck it, about three-quarters of the way up, an estimated 443 feet away.

Phillies Hit 1,950 Feet of Home Runs

Ben ShpigelReporting from Citizens Bank Park

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Rhys Hoskins trailed Harper for the postseason lead in home runs for four innings. His sixth of the playoffs landed not far from where Bohm’s did.

More coverage of Game 3 of the World Series:



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