MLB: Power surge, home edge have Phils flying high ahead of Game 4
PHILADELPHIA — After a record-tying power surge gave the Phillies a 2-1 World Series lead, Philadelphia will look to ride its distinct homefield edge to another win over the Houston Astros in Game 4 on Wednesday.
The Phillies improved to 6-0 at home in the postseason with a 7-0 victory on Tuesday. The rout featured five Philadelphia home runs — one each by Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, Kyle Schwarber, Brandon Marsh and Rhys Hoskins — matching the single-game mark for the Fall Classic.
The Phillies players and manager Rob Thomson credit the sellout crowds of nearly 46,000 as a major reason for their home success.
“They’re like the Eagles (fans),” Thomson said of the Phillies fans. “They get better every game. It was really something. It was really good.”
The Phillies will bring back their Game 1 starter, Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25 ERA regular season; 2-1, 4.57 postseason), for Game 4. The move became an option when Game 3 was rained out on Monday and moved to Tuesday, so Nola will be on the standard four days’ rest.
After two stellar playoff outings in which he gave up just one run, which was unearned, in 12 2/3 innings, Nola has surrendered 11 runs in nine innings over his past two starts.
Nola doesn’t believe that he’s tired.
“I don’t think any of us is really fatigued,” Nola said. “I think the World Series and this late in the season gets you amped up a little bit more, makes the body feel good, especially when you step out on the field in front of all these people and this crowd.
“So, honestly, the last thing that’s been on my mind is fatigue. The body feels good. My arm feels good. So that’s all that matters right now.”
By building an early lead on Tuesday and cruising to the win, the Phillies were able to rest their high-leverage relief pitchers as Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez were not needed.
“I feel good about it because we have some guys rested, for sure,” Thomson said. “But everybody we’ve used so far has really pitched well, really executed.”
The Astros hope their offense can execute in Game 4 after it went missing in Game 3.
The usually electrifying Houston lineup managed just five hits on Tuesday, all singles by five different players.
“I think everyone in here knows that we didn’t play well today,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said. “Everyone in here knows how to turn the page to the next game. Tip your cap to them.”
The Astros will turn to Cristian Javier (11-9, 2.54 ERA regular season; 1-0, 1.35 ERA postseason) to switch the momentum back to their side.
Javier has allowed only one run in 6 2/3 innings in the playoffs.
“Well, the guy’s evolved — he didn’t spend much time in the minor leagues,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Javier. “He’s evolved as far as throwing strikes better. His breaking ball is better than it was last year or even the year before that.
“He’s a very confident young man, but he’s a very quiet young man that really pays attention to everything. Like, he doesn’t talk much, but he doesn’t miss anything, and he talks with his eyes, and you can tell when somebody’s paying attention.”
Javier will be the center of attention for his first career World Series start. He went 0-1 with a 12.00 ERA in three relief outings against the Atlanta Braves in last year’s World Series.
–Andy Jasner, Field Level Media