Mandatory Credit: Photo by JASON SZENES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13604526o) Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (C) looks on in the dugout before game three of the MLB World Series between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 01 November 2022. MLB World Series – Houston Astros at Philadelphia Phillies, USA – 01 Nov 2022
Sometimes, you have games you just forget about and move on. As the song goes, turn the page.
These Astros have been so clutch, so dominant; you do not remember the times when it is just not their night. Tuesday in Philadelphia, that was the case as the Astros dropped Game 3 of the World Series to the Phillies 7-0 to go down two games to one in the best of seven.
It is a script the Phillies loved to see because their path to winning this World Series is pretty clear.
Steal a game at Minute Maid. Check in Game 1.
The Astros have an off night. Check in Game 3.
The other key? Have one of their ace starters pitch out of his mind. The Phillies will get that opportunity tonight when Aaron Nola gets the start against underrated Cristian Javier. It would give the Phillies a chance to go up 3-1 and force the Astros to be perfect from there.
That would be a tall order. But we aren’t there just yet, despite the lopsided score Tuesday night.
The Astros will do better on Wednesday than they did Tuesday night. Of course, that game could not have started much worse. After a meek top of the first inning that saw Phillies starter Ranger Suarez get two outs on the first two pitches, then strike out Yordan Alvarez, things got rough in the bottom of the inning.
Lance McCullers Jr., a postseason savage, had a rare brutal night. He walked the first batter of the game, Kyle Schwarber. After a couple of outs, he made a mistake to Bryce Harper, who hammered it for a two-run homer and the early 2-0 lead.
It did not get any better in the bottom of the second. McCullers, who appeared to be tipping his pitches, allowed a leadoff home run to left by Alec Bohm to make it 3-0 Phillies. Two outs later, he gave up yet another blast to light-hitting Brandon Marsh, and just like that, it was 4-0.
McCullers settled down briefly, but in the fifth, he allowed yet another massive blast, this one to Schwarber. Manager Dusty Baker, hoping to preserve the bullpen for the next two games, left McCullers in, and Rhys Hoskins hit yet another.
And that was basically that. McCullers, so clutch so often, simply did not have it. That can happen. You hate to see it in the World Series, but that’s baseball. His night ended after just 4 1/3rd innings, five hits, a walk, six runs, and five home runs.
But it was not just him. The bats, so clutch all year, did not show up, either. The Astros managed just five hits, the same number of home runs the Phillies hit. They had limited chances and did not take advantage of them.
All in all, it was just a tough night for the Astros at the wrong time. It is exactly what the Phillies needed to take control of the series.
But if you have watched these Astros, you know this is far from over. This team will forget this game, move forward, and try to write a different story. Because all along, the Astros have been resilient. Unflappable. They will not panic. And Javier might be the right man at the right time. During the season, he was second on the Astros in ERA among starters. He was second in WHIP. He led the team in strikeouts per nine innings. He was terrific in the ALCS against the Yankees. For all the big names on this roster, Javier has been incredibly clutch.
He will need to be. These Phillies are following their script to the letter. The Astros will need to flip that in a hurry, or they will be staring at their biggest challenge of the year. But this story is not written yet. The Astros have their own script, and it involves forgetting about Tuesday and having a big bounce back in Game 4.
They will turn the page on this loss, and Javier will help write the next chapter.