When it was over, when the Phillies had finished their 7-0 bombardment of the Houston Astros to move within two wins of a World Series championship on Tuesday night, Nick Castellanos didn’t want to talk so much about his first-team take inning on Jose Altuve’s leaky liner on the right – JT Realmuto called him a potential game-saver… yes, a first-inning game-saver – as he did about what everyone else did .
Castellanos spoke about the offense, the analysis department, Ranger Suarez’s throwing performance and the fans who continue to give the Phillies an incredible home court advantage. They are 6-0 at Citizens Bank Park in the playoffs and two more will play there in this World Series.
“The energy and the atmosphere here is second to none,” he said. “The only thing I can compare it to is a game of European football. It’s tough to play here. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the Astros right now. They really don’t have any margin of maneuver and that’s a good thing.”
The Phillies lead the series two games to one. Castellanos helped get the Game 3 win off to a good start on Tuesday night when he made a sliding catch to right field to pull off a hit from Altuve on the first pitch of the game.
“If this ball falls, it could change the whole game,” Realmuto said. “If Altuve starts the game with another hit (like he did in the Astros’ 5-2 win in Game 2), there’s no telling how this game will end.”
Catching Castellanos, a carbon copy of two other bigs he had in that incredible post-season run, prompted an early roar from the crowd of 45,712.
“It was as loud as I heard,” Realmuto said. “Maybe not as loud as Bryce’s homer in the last series, but it was as loud as I heard other than that.”
The crowd had more reason to go crazy late in the first inning as Bryce Harper homered two out and two runs against Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr.
The right-hander had a bad night. He allowed five homers, a record for a pitcher in a postseason game.
Harper hit a first-pitch slider that hooked into the area like a piñata.
It looked like he knew what was coming.
He did not know. But he had a hunch. So he was sitting slider.
“Of course,” Harper said. “He throws that slider and curve ball heavy. But at the same time, I didn’t want to be beaten by anything else. So I just tried to see the best pitch possible and take a good swing on it. .”
In addition to Harper, Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh, Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins all homered against McCullers in the first five innings. Harper, Marsh and Hoskins all hit sliders. Bohm hit a hanging sinker. Schwarber hit a change in the bushes beyond the center field wall.
McCullers was hit so hard there was speculation he was tipping his pitches. Hoskins, Harper and Realmuto have all dismissed this theory.
Right after his home run, Harper spoke to both Castellanos and Bohm.
“I’m just trying to convey information about what I saw,” Harper said.
Bohm smiled and pretended to seal her lips when asked what Harper had told her.
“I think any little bit of information you can get helps,” Hoskins said. “I know the camera caught Bohm and Harp talking. It’s mostly about the shape of the pitches, where you need to see the pitch, which lane it needs to start in.”
Castellanos credited the Phillies’ analytics staff for providing insight into McCullers, who likes to throw sliders and curveballs, 51% of his shots this season. He’s thrown just two four-seam fastballs to left-handed hitters in 96 plate appearances this season. The Phillies hitters knew it.
“I will just say that our analytics team is very good at spotting trends,” Castellanos said. “Any information that we get as a team, not just on their starters, but on their guys in the bullpen, has been a big help. We’ll take whatever advantage we can get on the team. one of their pitchers.
“People whose job it is to fetch all possible information to make our lives easier are highly valued. So it’s a group job.
“Any communication and information that we can give each other is a huge help. Everyone here has bought into the larger idea of winning a game. So right now no one is sulking or being unhappy if he doesn’t get the result he wanted. They understand that the next person is the most important.”
Realmuto scoffed when the idea for McCullers tipping locations came up.
“He’s a guy we saw at the end of the year in Houston,” Realmuto said. “We could see his pitches at that time and to be honest he just left pitches in the heart of the plate today and we have a really good formation and when you do that guys are going to make you pay for it. It’s not like we got him 12 hits and hit rockets all over the place. It was when he made that mistake that our guys took advantage and capitalized.
Three homers in the first two innings. A relentless crowd. This can wear down an opponent. McCullers walked Schwarber to open the bottom of the first.
“The first two pitches against Schwarber, he immediately started looking and flicking his fingernail,” Castellanos said. “It’s tough playing here in Philadelphia, man. We could all see he was a little uncertain early on in the game. I think we as a group felt it and we didn’t let go of the foot.
“I think now in the World Series everybody knows on that side that pretty much anybody in our lineup can hit the ball out of the park, so they’re going to have to be a lot more careful every time that they throw the ball because they might not get it back.”
Game 4 is Wednesday night. Aaron Nola pitches for the Phillies. Cristian Javier opts for the Astros. We’ll see what the Phillies have on him.